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EDITORIAL: ARC funding is key to our region

Last week, Collins Career Technical Center was host to a prominent visitor.

Gayle Manchin, the federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, dropped by the school to see the fruits of ARC’s funding.
Manchin, who assumed the job earlier this year after being appointed by President Joe Biden, is the former first lady of West Virginia and the wife of its current U.S. senator and former governor Joe Manchin.

As part of a longtime political family in that state, she is all too familiar with the issues impacting the state in the Appalachian region served by ARC.

Manchin first saw efforts being made to help educate the workforce, in the form of CCTC’s heavy equipment program, which seeks to train both high school and adult students for industry.

The lengthier part of the visit was devoted to meeting with representatives from Ironton-Lawrence CAO and tackling one of the biggest problems in the region: The addiction epidemic.

The CAO has received two grants from ARC for its Recovery-to-Work program, which help those recovering from addiction to get their lives back and rejoin the workforce.
Manchin listened intently as she heard testimony from one woman who told her story of success. Now working for a recovery-friendly employer in the county, she said the program had changed her life and given her hope.

She told Manchin that the struggle was not an easy one, but those at CAO had been reliable and helped her when she hit a bump.

These programs show the need for ARC in our region. Under the last presidential administration, there was talk of doing away with the agency. Thankfully, this did not come to pass.

With Manchin’s visit to Lawrence County and other parts of the region, she can see first hand the reason ARC’s mission is so vital and find evidence of how it is making a positive impact.

We thank her for coming to Lawrence County and speaking to all of those involved and we are grateful for both those at CCTC and CAO for putting ARC’s funds to a wise use.