PARKERSBURG - Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., held open discussions with about 35 Wood County residents on Thursday during a brown bag luncheon in the Judge Black Annex on Market Street.
"This is just another version of an open forum for me to talk to you, hear your concerns and take them back to Washington," McKinley said. "I want input from the people in this district on what is going on in the region."
The area residents in attendance were encouraged to bring their lunches to the meeting as they spoke with and listened to the United States representative discuss why he asked to be part of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., answers questions during a brown bag luncheon in Parkersburg.
"I feel I can do positive things for the people of West Virginia while on this committee," he said. "I want to work where there is coal and energy because it's about jobs."
McKinley said there is a misconception in Washington, D.C., about coal and that the energy source has received a bad connotation from environmental groups.
"About 50 percent of West Virginia's revenue comes from coal and when people in Washington attack coal, they are attacking West Virginia," he said. "I want people to know that it's not machines digging out the coal, it's men and women.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., speaks before about 35 Wood County residents during a brown bag luncheon on Thursday in the Judge Black Annex on Market Street. McKinley used the forum as a way to open discussions about concerns the public has.
"I want to honor them and make sure that the industry in West Virginia is respected," McKinley said.
Members of the audience thanked McKinley for his work and values to help the people of the state.
"I want to thank you for protecting our mission," said Christina Smith, executive director of The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley. "Not only does West Virginia lead the nation in senior citizens, but also people with disabilities per capita."
About 35 people showed up to interact with Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., during his brown bag luncheon on Thursday.
The hour-long event had McKinley discussing the need for jobs and the importance of coal to the state and national economy.
McKinley asked the audience if they think their quality of life is better than that of their parents. More than 30 of the audience members raised their hands in the affirmative.
Then the congressman asked if the individuals thought their children had a better quality of life than they do. Only a few agreed.
"We've lost a bit of American ideals and dreams and we're working to get those back," McKinley said. "There is some work to be done to put that American dream back where it belongs."
The brown bag lunch is one of many forums McKinley is using to get in touch with the people of West Virginia.
"Most of our town hall meetings are in the evenings, but we figured that people take a break for lunch, so we decided to try something new," he said. "There seems to be a lot of interest in what is going on in our country."