A press release from SAV NRV, Sustain Authentic Values, New River Valley:
Despite a crowd of twenty protestors outside the Southwest Virginia Highlands Community College where incumbent Congressman Morgan Griffith and challenger Anthony Flaccavento appeared for a debate on October 18th, mainstream media continues to ignore the growing opposition to the proposed National Heritage Area designation, brainchild of Congressman Griffith, Senator Mark Warner and The Crooked Road organization, a taxpayer funded 501c3 tourism promotion entity. Both congressional candidates for Virginia's 9th District support the designation.For more information on the group, go here.
A National Heritage Area newsletter/expose published by SAV NRV, (Sustain Authentic Values, New River Valley) was distributed outside as the crowd gathered for the debate, where the future of the coal industry--integral to the suffering economy of Southwest Virginia-- would become a hot topic. While Congressman Griffith touted his reputation as a defender of coal as an EPA warrior, and Flaccavento emphasized the need to transition to an "asset-based" economy (one that is not dependent on resource extraction industries), both men ignored the fact that designation of the 19 counties of Congressional District 9 as a NHA will heap layers of regulations on business and industry, and especially coal. This was the elephant in the room that was never introduced, and ignored altogether in follow-up reporting by two major area news outlets.
An interview was conducted by Bristol Broadcasting Company's Crystal Dawn Carter, with Abingdon protester Barbara Waters describing her family's loss of their farm and 200 acres in Grayson County to the National Forest Service. Debra McCown, reporting for the Roanoke Times Blue Ridge Caucus also ignored information provided to her, failing even to mention the NHA opposition despite photographing the protesters.
"It's not that we aren't used to being ignored in our opposition to the radical transformation that Southwest Virginia is experiencing under the heel of 'Sustainable Development'," says Catherine Turner, publisher of the SAV NRV Newsletter. "It is inconceivable, however, that this designation is looming without local government bodies throughout District 9 even being made aware that their authority is about to be replaced by the National Park Service and a "managing entity" made up of a special interest group of music and tourism figureheads. A few of the counties are starting to get clued in through our efforts, with Smyth County voting to defund The Crooked Road and Washington County now considering it. But it is unthinkable that our congressman and the press talk about the "War on Coal" when this designation is posed to determine the winner. But then, you have the mainstream media ignoring Benghazi-Gate,so what else is new?"