Ashley and Sean Noland were raised in West Virginia and they wanted to stay in the state forever. But after having a baby, they felt they had to move away to build a better life for their child.
This is a common story in West Virginia these days. So common that West Virginia is one of only two states in the nation that lost population last year.
The population loss has been so steady for the last decade that it is likely that the 2020 census will result in the loss of a Congressional seat in the state.
The impact of out-migration will also hurt the legacy that coal miners worked so hard to build.
Coal is not a just a fossil fuel in West Virginia. For so many generations of West Virginians, coal has been a way of life. Coal means bravery and sacrifice, hard work and community, determination and commitment.
Honoring the legacy of coal means making sure Ashley and Sean can stay in West Virginia and help build it again.
This means making it possible for such a couple to make enough money here that they can raise their kids here.
It means putting resources into schools so young families want to educate their children here.
It means rebuilding the state’s economy into a stable and adaptable one that will ensure there are enough West Virginians here to carry on those coal-inspired values and honor the history that makes the state so unique.
The Mountain State must build an economy that gives West Virginians the freedom to stay.
NeON BRAND photo | unsplash.com