Poverty In Eastern Panhandle Still as Issue

- BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va.--While a lot of families in the four-state area are enjoying Thanksgiving meals in the confines of their warm homes. West Virginia officials say there are still a lot of families who are hungry and without homes in the Eastern Panhandle. Now officials are discussing ways to solve the poverty issues in the area.

A lot of people in the Eastern Panhandle say they're thankful this holiday season, but local officials say more than ten-percent of the population is still living in poverty.

"When we talk about Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday coming up, we certainly realize how fortunate we are when we sit around at the dinner table, with our families partaking in a wonderful meal, and have a lot of pride in that meal," says Delegate Tiffany Lawrence (D-Jefferson) District 65. "We realize a lot of families children don't have that luxury."

Now West Virginia political officials and community leaders are speaking about how to deal with the "Poverty in the Panhandle." They say it starts with business leaders and public officials coming together and helping out the children in need.  They say if the children do not receive help now they will grow up into a life of trouble.

"Where a third of our workforce will be on either drugs or disability, a third will be incarcerated a third will be leaving the state that we need to do something different here. The idea is to create and have in a healthy environment where a child can grow," says Senator John Unger, West Virginia Senate Majority Leader.

Delegate Jason Barrett says state legislature understands the poverty issue, and that new legislation could be introduced this state legislative session to help the residents in need.

"In the legislature, we are well aware of it," says Delegate Jason Barrett, (D-Berkeley) District 61. "We are doing things like this out in the community, where the community folks are engaged, we don't focus on, we focus on how do we fix the problem, what are some avenues we can take."

The discussion was sponsored by the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle.

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