Moving on from a coal economy in WV with Greg Puckett (S3E13)

In my conversation with Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett I travel back to West Virginia where we talk about the state’s moving away from being dominated by the coal industry. And you will love his reason for getting into government, at least I did, so join the conversation.

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Greg Puckett: We actually displaced a lot of culture. And that’s the problem that I think is we’re seeing throughout Appalachia, is that, you know, we not only lost the industry, we’ve not only lost, you know, what people did, but you’ve lost a culture that went associated with that. And that’s a much deeper dive. Good government is one that protects the people and gives them the greatest voice possible, you know, bringing everybody together, not just working in my county, but working with my municipalities and working in the counties around me.

Be it the fact that I’m on the border with Virginia, good government would be able to reach the rural level to go across those, you know, state borders. Yeah, I’m a firm believer that if you change the environment, you change the culture and you change the people, and if the environment never changes, neither do the people. So investment back into systems, investment back into whatever geographic environment you want, that’s what’s going to change that culture and that’s what’s going to keep people hanging on.

Say, you know what, I want a better.

David Martin: Welcome to the Good Government show. I’m Dave Martin. And on this episode, we’re going back to my new favorite state, West Virginia, and have a conversation with Greg Puckett. Greg is the president of the Mercer County Board of Commissioners. If you don’t know West Virginia as well as I do now, Mercer County is in the southeast part of the state.

It borders Virginia to the east and McDowell County, and that’s where we went and visited the new teachers apartment building in Welch. Well, that’s just to the west. I wanted to talk to Greg because I became fascinated with West Virginia. First, there’s the history and not just the Hatfields and McCoy feuds, but the story of coal and how one industry really took over the state.

And now as that coal industry is on the wane, the state is learning to turn away from not just coal but the supporting industries that went with it. And I talk about some of that with Greg. Greg is also the executive director of the nonprofit Community Connections that works on the prevention of drug addiction for youth. And he supports teen courts.

He’s a strong advocate for mental health programs as working on neighborhood revitalization. And if that’s not enough to keep him busy, hint it is. But Greg is also the chair of the Rural Action Caucus for Naco, and that gives him a national perspective on issues and challenges in some of the least populated parts of the country. He is, among other groups on NATO’s opioid task Force, and he’s vice chair of the Arts and Culture Committee.

With all these commitments, we were happy to just have a chance to sit down and talk with Greg about West Virginia and government. So I might have that conversation coming up right after the break.

The Good government show is sponsored by NACO. That’s the National Association of Counties. County Government is actually the oldest form of government in the United States, and it touches more people directly. Roads, highways, hospitals, schools, recycling law enforcement, water and sewers. In most of the country, those services are maintained by the county that’s county government. Naco is a nationwide organization that represents all 3069 counties across the U.S. Naco helps county government work better together through things like sharing best practices.

Because when county government works well, well, that’s just good government.

Welcome to the Good Government show and a conversation with today. We are having a conversation with Greg Puckett. So if you would, I just said your name. Introduce yourselves. Tell us your title and where you’re from and what you’re doing.

Greg Puckett: Sounds great, Dave. Thanks for having me. It’s Greg Puckett, County Commissioner, Mercer County, West Virginia. I actually get the the amazing title of an executive director of a nonprofit agency doing work in in that area as well. And both of them together. And it’s two full time jobs. And I just got to love both of them.

David Martin: All right. Well, that’s good. One of the reasons why I wanted to talk with you is because last season we went to West Virginia. We did a couple of stories on sort of conversion away from the mining industry. We went to McDowell County, where they have a program where they incentivize high school students to come back as teachers.

They built a housing unit for them in downtown Welch And then we went to Boone County, where they have a lavender farm where a strip mine used to be. Great stories, great progress. Very impressive. Is that happening throughout West Virginia?

Greg Puckett: It is. And it depends on where you are as to the magnitude of how you’re kind of reclaiming and re territory, losing all the areas that are left behind by the problems associated with the mining industry. You know, it’s one of those situations where we have to diversify. We’ve got to figure out, you know, coal’s not coming back.

We know that. Yeah, but how do you take the people that are left there and, you know, kind of reintegrate them back into a society that’s not going to be addicted to a particular substance and can, you know, increase the value of the workforce.

David Martin: How pervasive was the coal industry in West Virginia and how much of a factor is it today?

Greg Puckett: So we’re probably about 20% of where we were probably 50, 60 years ago. And that’s really, you know, what we’re starting to see is that, you know, how you how you take not only where the mine is, but in a county like mine, which is a what I would consider a coal supporting community, not a producing community. Okay.

And you take the the manufacturing, the machining things, all that, you know, the bolts, the rivet, everything that went into that. Right. You know, we were the community that supported it. So when you take away a mine, you’re not just taking away that mine. You’re taking away all the ripple effects that happened in not only that location, but everywhere else.

And so, you know, you’re starting to see an economy that that did not reeducate itself. That has to now diversify in ways where, you know, we’ve never been able to do that before. And so I think, you know, you mentioned the lavender mines or the lavender fields. I think that’s a great way to use a negative scar. So I totally get it.

David Martin: Yeah.

Greg Puckett: But it’s.

David Martin: Huge. I was shocked.

Greg Puckett: It’s amazing.

David Martin: I was I was surprised at how big it was.

Greg Puckett: Absolutely. Well, when you take off to the top of a mine and you push it into the you displace communities, you know, that’s that’s a thing. We actually displaced a lot of culture. And that’s the problem that I think is we’re seeing throughout Appalachia is that, you know, we not only lost the industry, we’ve not only lost, you know, what people did, but you’ve lost a culture that went associated with that.

And that’s a much deeper does.

David Martin: How hard is it to does everyone understand coal’s not coming back? And does everyone understand that there has to be a new sort of school of thought?

Greg Puckett: Yeah, I do. I believe that if you ask somebody, they’ll be like, No, it’s not. And, you know, there’s as we mentioned earlier, generations of people that have gone in the mines and that’s part of their legacy.

David Martin: Yeah. Their father. Their grandfather.

Greg Puckett: Exactly. But I also think that, you know, we got to be real. We got to understand that there’s only a certain amount of resources that are available. And through automation, we know that there’s going to be automatic cuts to the workforce. So how are you going to diversify that? And I think if if if anything that’s taught us is that we’ve got to be unique in our strategies and use the same type of culture to help build.

So we’ve we’ve increased the, you know, the value of tourism in our areas. And we’re saying, look, come back, come back to this area. You know, it once was this. We could tell you that story. Yeah, but let’s talk about what it can be based on a new industry that’s going to be able to move us forward.

David Martin: So when was the last time you were out on your ATV?

Greg Puckett: So I ironically, I get on my ATV a lot and just happens to be on my own property. As far as being on the trail, it’s probably been about a year. But, you know, it’s great to go down to the historical town of Bramwell, get on that ride all the way to to Asheville. And it’s just it’s amazing that you’ve got so many people and it’s camaraderie, too.

I mean, you can come into my county and every 10 minutes on a Friday, I can watch $1,000,000 Rover. I mean, ATVs have ATVs. And that’s that’s boosting the economy, that’s getting heads in beds. That’s really changing sort of what people see about West Virginia. But to prepare for that, which we’re behind, I’m not going to lie about it.

Yeah. You know, we need to deal with our dilapidated properties. We need to deal with the blight. We need to deal with that negative stereotype, stereotype and stigma that comes from southern West Virginia. So we need to rebuild, rebrand and move forward.

David Martin: That was one thing I noticed was dilapidated properties and just garbage.

Greg Puckett: Oh, yeah. Complete. And it’s you got to remember, we’re coming from generations of use and abuse and, you know, we’ve got whole towns that, you know, the coal companies came in and they paid you with their script and that was all on them. And when those dried up and went away, everything went with it. So you didn’t have that culture of external of whatever that coal camp was.

So and then it was also but, you know, if you treat me this way, well, I’m going to treat something else this way. It was a generational effect. So, yeah, people do unfortunately, you know, use up their their natty light or whatever. They happen to be drinking it today. And I’ll toss it out the window and it leaves people like myself and others to go back and say, you know what?

That’s not the environment we want to have anymore. We’re cleaning it.

David Martin: Up. Do you feel like the attitude is changing?

Greg Puckett: I don’t know. I think to a degree. I think as time goes on, the education campaigns are wrapped around, you know, why we need to be better and why we need to take that cultural peace and be proud of who we are as West Virginians. I think that’s something that we’ve lost over the last couple of decades, and we need to instill that pride back in.

And I know in my county we’ve been doing a clean up campaign every year for the last nine years called Keep Mercer Clean, where we we empower people by giving them the tools to go out and help clean up their own highways and do the work and.

David Martin: Yet are they getting it done?

Greg Puckett: Oh, yeah. I mean, we collect literally tens of tons of trash. I mean, a couple of years ago we collected over 100 tons of trash within a given 40 day timeline. That tells you how bad it is, but it also tells you we’re working now with the DEP. We’re working with state legislature, state audit office. We’re cleaning up those dilapidated and blighted areas, and we’re starting to have that impact.

You got to remember, in my county, in most counties in West Virginia, there is no zoning, there is no building code. We still do not issue building permits in my county.

David Martin: There’s no code.

Greg Puckett: There’s no code.

David Martin: I live in New York City. This never happens.

Greg Puckett: Right. So in West Virginia, depending on the county you’re in, there’s only, I think of the 55 counties. I think there’s only four or five that have zoning, very limited overreach by a governmental procedure. But as you and I know you’ve got to be able to have some to not protect. You’ve got to protect everyone. I mean, yeah, you don’t want to have that regulation, but you certainly want to tell your neighbor what to do, you know, because everybody goes up when everybody complies.

And that’s what we’ve got to work toward and we’ve got to change the dialog and how we move forward.

David Martin: I should have asked this first. Could you tell folks where Mercer County is in West Virginia?

Greg Puckett: Sure. Mercer County is the southern part of the state. Most people might know where Virginia Tech is down in Blacksburg area. We’re about an hour west. We’re within 12 hours of the United States population dead center, eastern United States.

David Martin: Prime tourism location.

Greg Puckett: Exactly. From tourism, prime economic location. So, you know, if you want to build a distribution hub where else can you get to 60% of the United States population I can be in. My daughter actually goes to school in Florida. She’s in south Florida. So I get to Tampa in 11 and a half hours. I can be in New York and be in Brooklyn where you’re at in nine a half hours.

So 12 hour drive. 60% of the United States population.

David Martin: Okay. And I read a little something about Mercer County. You’re getting a new arts venue.

Greg Puckett: We are.

David Martin: Yes, we know about it.

Greg Puckett: Well, you know, we’ve got several things that have been really boosting up. You know, we’ve had the business center for years. We we’ve really focused on, you know, how to build the arts because we really feel that, you know, arts transforms the culture. And so, you know, we’ve we’ve started reaching out to all of our additional folks that.

David Martin: Are building a new venue. Right.

Greg Puckett: Well, not a whole lot. I mean, it’s a $250,000. It’s a stage that’s at local community. All right. I wouldn’t say it’s the end all, be all. But I will say this. What’s interesting about it is it kind of gets back to that cultural piece. When I was a kid, there was a stage at our local park and then over the years that just became dilapidated.

But that was, you know, they brought bluegrass concerts in and so on. Through the American Rescue Plan Funds, we were able to reinvest back into the parks and so we’ve actually put $250,000 into that to make it a state of the art venue. We’re going to be investing probably another $500,000 into the parks. So, you know, we’re appreciative of all the money that have come out in the waste because counties have never had that.

And so now that’s really helping us regrow, rebrand and rebuild.

David Martin: The opioid crisis has hit West Virginia particularly hard. What steps are you taking to try to mitigate it as much as possible?

Greg Puckett: Well, you know, again, it gets back into the resources that you do on a collaborative basis. So we work with our local community, mental health centers and others to get Narcan distribution out as much as possible. You know, we try to make sure that we have as many treatment beds or at least resources to treatment. We do that during the course of the year.

We have community take back days in cooperation with the DEA, and we also do a lot of drug disposal kits. So, you know, if you’ve got unwanted, unused prescriptions in your home, we can get you a drug disposal kit, put put some water in air, throw the drugs away, put it in the the waste system and it dissolves and it’s safe.

And it’s in it’s it’s virtually unusable to the consumer. So it protects everybody by not having those drugs back out on the street.

David Martin: What’s your background before you got into Commissioner?

Greg Puckett: Ironically enough, I’m a communication arts person, so, you know, I was doing radio 30 years ago. Okay. The interesting part is.

David Martin: Now that now that you’ve become a pharmacist.

Greg Puckett: Right. Exactly. You know, the nonprofit that I mentioned earlier, we do a lot in terms of taking federal dollars and working with our block grants, subsidies, treatment and prevention and treatment block grant. And we get those moneys out into the communities and we try to do as much as possible to make sure we mitigate the opioid problem as fast as we can.

David Martin: What made you decide to get into government and county commissioner to run for office?

Greg Puckett: Because I got tired of dealing with it on the outside. Well, you know, if I can get in and help work on some policies, you know, speak to rural, speak to, you know, opportunities to help make communities stronger. And that’s what I was going to do. And my mom and dad always told me, they said, you know, I got a gift for gab and a way to make people mad.

So I guess that was a.

David Martin: Great way to have an a way to make people better.

Greg Puckett: So that was that was good politics.

David Martin: My producer over here, David Snyder, is laughing at me. He said, I think I’m got to hear that what he did. Yeah, you may. But yeah.

Greg Puckett: That’s you know, that’s the way I look at it. And if I can if I can make some change along the way and leave the community better as a legacy, then that’s what I want to do.

David Martin: You are also have a national appointment here with the National Association of Counties at their legislative conference. You are the chairman, I believe, of the Rural Caucus. Is that.

Greg Puckett: Correct? Yeah. The Rural Action Caucus has been doing that for the last couple of years. It’s been probably one of the highlights of my career to be able to speak, you know, not just tell my story through what’s like in West Virginia, but the will take everything that’s going on across this great country. And from a rural perspective and say, you know what, we matter rural matters.

You know, if you’re really looking at the way that the country’s been run through our farmers, through our, you know, through everybody that’s really has that local story and, you know, the mom and pop stories that have really mattered and resonates well, That’s the story that it needs to be told because that gets back to rural America that really built And, you know, laid us on a good foundation.

David Martin: Does rural America get a short shrift from government?

Greg Puckett: Absolutely. Every time. And I think that’s where, you know, if you’re looking at population level results through funding allocations, whatever happens to be, that’s fine. I mean, we can reach a great number of population, but does it truly have the impact? You know, you can put a lot of money into major metropolitan areas and it’s going to be like dropping a pea in the ocean.

But if you drop that same poppy into a pretty smaller pot, right. And do it in a coffee cup, that’s a pretty significant impact. You know, so let’s reinvest. Let’s reinvest into rural America and say, you know what, These are impact stories. So if we look at impact versus population, we’re going to be better off in the long term.

David Martin: What are you seeing nationally, the challenges that rural America has that that are being addressed?

Greg Puckett: Well, I think, you know, we’ve we’ve discussed it at great length about broadband. You know, we need to have connections with people at the grassroots level. We saw kids during the pandemic that, you know, had no Internet access, had no connectivity. And we were off for months at a time. So these kids were either, you know, convening at a local school or a McDonald’s or somewhere just to get Internet access.

And they lost a connectivity. So we lost a cultural piece during that time on, too. So broadband number one. Second thing, really understanding the resources that are within the opioid epidemic and saying, you know what, if rural was the epicenter, right? If if companies targeted rural in particular, and we know that we have a society of addiction, then let’s try to see if we can get moneys into the rural areas to fix those, to really kind of build those back up economically and rebuild that culture.

David Martin: All right. Are you ready for the questions?

Greg Puckett: Big questions. Let’s get to the big questions.

David Martin: All right. So we have our own on air speed. No, no, no speed. But but we will we’re going to get into what your real philosophy of government is. All right. Okay. So the first question is, as a county commissioner in Mercer County, West Virginia, defined good government.

Greg Puckett: Good government is one that protects the people and gives them the greatest voice possible, you know, bringing everybody together, not just working in my county, but working with my municipalities and working in the counties around me. Be it the fact that I’m on a border with Virginia, good government would be able to reach the rural level to go across those state borders.

Yeah. And say, look, the issues in Tazewell County, Virginia, Wise County, Virginia, Bladen County, Virginia, they’re the same as mine. Why can’t we do this together? The problem is state focused initiatives get stuck within the state. Yeah. So therefore.

David Martin: These the border.

Greg Puckett: They stop at the border. So we need to look at things from a much more regional perspective and saying, look, let’s stop the problems or fix the solutions in those areas that can be done across county Cross state. That’d be good government to me.

David Martin: Have you had any success doing that?

Greg Puckett: I think to a degree, I think you look at the issues, you know, you look at tourism, things like that, that are impactful to all water, sewer projects. You know, we work with our local regional development hubs. We have those discussions. They’re just not financially supported in a regional capacity. You have to essentially go to the state or you’re figuring out another way to work together in ways where money matters.

David Martin: How do you know if you’re doing a good job? What how do you tell tell yourself.

Greg Puckett: Well, and it depends on the issue.

David Martin: Well, what’s your yardstick for, you know, am I being effective?

Greg Puckett: Is our culture more accepting where you’re not getting screamed at on Facebook every day? That’d be a great thing to have. Well, you know, but then again, if you are getting yelled at every day, then maybe you’re still doing a good job. Okay. Because you’ve upset the apple cart enough to where, you know, we’ve got to pick the apples up and put them back in.

So I think, you know, for me, our lives being saved. Are we are we able to transform? You know, somebody that says that they want to be in my county. You know, you got a kid. I’ll never forget I was in school and I was given a presentation to to high school youth. And we were like, junior seniors is 300 400 people in the school.

And I ask, you know, how many of you all want to stay in West Virginia? And three people raise their hand. That hurt because it’s like, you know, well, first of all, where are you going? What are you doing? And can you bring it back? That would be great. But why do you want to leave? Because if you see no hope and you see no opportunity, then that’s the worst thing.

So my goal is to increase a lot of that. And some of that is through cleaning up the place. Some of that is you bringing in economics, showcasing that we have great history and great opportunity and that you don’t have to leave. But if you do leave, you want to come back. So that would be great.

David Martin: How do how do you want the people to keep you in check, to keep you on your toes?

Greg Puckett: So they do it every day.

David Martin: How do and how do you want to do it? How do you want them to do it?

Greg Puckett: Trust me, They reach me in the grocery store every time I go. They’ll tell me. And they’re they’re very easy to to talk to, to be honest. I want people to tell me what’s going on, and I want to be able to solve it Quickly. Quickly. I mean, I want to be able to have a resource and go back to say, you know what?

I’m going to hold that guy accountable for that behavior and this is the way we’re going to do it. And then if if that’s known, then we’ll be effective. The problem is, as I mentioned earlier, no zoning, no code. No, no. So accountability is a major factor. I would love to see us have greater accountability. I don’t want to overreach, but I do want to be accountable enough to where we have greater value in what we have.

David Martin: What should people do if they feel like they’re not getting good government, if the government not working for them?

Greg Puckett: Well, first of all, best government is local government. My opinion. You know, we were granted a gift by this administration for the simple fact they are funds came directly to counties and I think that that was a trust that we could actually get the job done. And I think we have for people to have that same thought. I want them to have trust in me that, you know, we’re going to bring in new opportunities and we’re going to do things that are going to be beneficial for everybody and that, you know, we want to revitalize our areas that have been overlooked for so long.

We’re doing right now we’ve got two major municipalities, which for Brooklyn, it’s literally microcosms. But but, you know, we’re taking the town of Bloomfield, town of Princeton, and we’re putting them back on the map because we’re revitalizing them at the local main street level. Okay. And I think it’s that revitalization and that’s showing people, hey, it’s not what it was, but man, every store is full.

I got foot traffic again. I’ve got, you know, stores going into their shops.

David Martin: That’s something I sort of saw in Welch. They built an apartment house for teachers. Right.

Greg Puckett: And then there’s.

David Martin: An ATV sale and equipment center and they’re movie theaters still there. And they put in a coffee shop.

Greg Puckett: And it’s about your environment. If you if you. I’m a firm believer that if you change the environment, you change the culture and you change the people. And if the environment never changes, neither do the people. So investment back into systems, investment back into whatever geographic environment you want. That’s what’s going to change that culture. And that’s what’s going to keep people hanging on.

Say, you know what, I want a better.

David Martin: What would you like to see citizens do if they’re not happy with the way government is working for them or in their, in their view, not working for them?

Greg Puckett: Honestly, I. Okay. So stop the rhetoric. Stop complaining. Do something about it. We live in a society right now where everybody has is keyboard warrior, right? You all get on. They want to be anonymous, but yet, you know, they just spew this information out. And we’ve got our fair share in my county. But if you really want to do it, to focus on fixing it, then do something about it.

Just don’t complain about it. And I’ve I’ve told people all the time know they complain about trash. They complain about these. Well, here, I tell you what. I’ve got five bags. I’ve got a grabber and a vest. And if you want to go out there and organize a cleanup, I’d be happy to help you out and empower them.

David Martin: Yeah.

Greg Puckett: So I honestly I think it’s it’s some of that it’s empowering people to be a part of the solution.

David Martin: Government is big. It is complicated. What would you like people to know as an insider in government? What would you like people to know about how government works?

Greg Puckett: It’s too slow, as we all know. You know, solving actual problems takes monumental task since literally moving mountains. I think the thing that most people need to understand is that, you know, government is there for a purpose, is not there to control it, is there to assist and support. And I think we need to do a lot more of that.

And again, it kind of gets back into the rhetoric. If you’re going back in and you’re only complaining, you’re only talking about the problems instead of focusing on solutions, you gain nothing. And the partizanship, the stuff that we’ve got right now and polarizing on both sides, that can’t happen. That cannot continue to happen, because if it does not, we think it’s going to do is create the divisiveness that we’ve already seen.

And, you know, we spent the last ten years destroying who we are and we’re gonna spend the next 30 to fix it. But I hope that we can get there.

David Martin: Who is your political hero? Who’s your hero in government?

Greg Puckett: Teddy Roosevelt.

David Martin: Really?

Greg Puckett: Yeah. My father, Teddy, was always the one that was out there. He was. He was good for the environment, but he was good for economics. He knew how to gather people. He knew how to, you know, put the resources in and have a passion for moving forward. And I think if if I had ever had to look at anybody and, you know, I, you know, having visited the places in the in the great Northwest, you know, and seen sort of the vision that he had for creating our national park system, I can’t think of another president that did more for us in the last, you know, 100 plus years.

David Martin: So I’m this is a hard question. Now. I’m coming to Mercer County. We’re having a meal. You’re going to show me the best of Mercer County, best of West Virginia cuisine. Where are we going? What do we have?

Greg Puckett: Oh, let’s see. I’ll take you several places.

David Martin: You can absolutely look at it. Yeah. Yeah.

Greg Puckett: So let’s see. It’s a great little place over in Bluefield, West Virginia, called The vault’s going to get one of the best steaks you’ve ever eaten in your whole life. All right. Great casual cuisine in an old bank location right downtown. All right. Especially good on a nice cold night with a glass of wine. We’d be good to go.

All right. Come back over to Princeton. Going to have a lot more fun. We’re going to go to a little place called Sophisticated Hell, That’s going to get you some of the best beer you’ve ever drinking your whole life. But, you know, I want you to come in and, you know, I might take you out to Camp Creek State Park, get you some ramp casserole in the spring.

David Martin: So I’ll show you some ramp casserole. You’re gonna have to explain that look.

Greg Puckett: So ramps are like a wild onion. And so every year they only grow within a certain amount of weeks. But then you mix that up with special sausage and some some garlic and some other things, and you create a casserole, and then it’s a delicacy in the spring and southern West Virginia.

David Martin: Wrap cast ramp.

Greg Puckett: Casserole.

David Martin: All right. You learn something new every day. Is being in politics something you always sort of aspired to, where you were always involved? Is that something you always thought you’d wind up doing?

Greg Puckett: No, I in fact, you know, it’s one of those things where I actually hated politicians and I still hate the term. I think politician is an evil word. I do think the term advocate suits me much better because I think that if politicians would get away from that and would really advocate for what they want to be better, then we’re going to be we’re going to be good.

And I think there’s enough out there to be honest. I look at county government and say, okay, this is the way the political system should run, because when you walk around here at this conference, yeah, we’re in D.C. now, you know, it’s a very partizan area, but if you walk around, we don’t hear a lot about read, we don’t hear a lot about Blue Note.

We exist in the purple, and that’s the way counties seem to work. Yeah, Yeah.

David Martin: Let’s bring it back to Mercer County. Give me an example of some good government projects you’ve been able to get through.

Greg Puckett: Oh, man. Let me give you a to give you a top three. Okay, So I would say that, you know, even though we have no zoning, as we’ve discussed, we do really focus on good collective work with our infrastructure projects. You know, we do believe that every community should have could have water and sewer projects. We want to make sure that we get as good of environment as we can.

So I think we’ve really been able to invest that a lot over the last two years because of partnerships with our local regional authorities. Also with the American Rescue Plan, we’ve invested probably a couple $3 million. Just to let you know, we’ve got 11.4 million. That’s what the county got. And it’s a pallet. He’s added up. We got about 20 collectives.

It’s not a lot of money, so we are leveraging that as good as possible. So I think that infrastructure second thing, our tourism industry is really glowing. I think we are at the point now we are a growth county again and we’re starting to see major infrastructure come in because we’ve got people that know how to get to Mercer County and they want to invest.

Third thing, I think we’re we’re dealing a lot now that I would consider good projects is that we’re investing in solving our opioid issues by having collective discussion with our comprehensive behavioral health centers, working on prevention systems, working on good housing for people that are in active recovery, trying to get back on the right track, get on the feet.

I think those are the three things I think we’ve done better over the last 2 to 3 years than we’ve done in the probably previous ten.

David Martin: I am coming back to West Virginia. Yeah, that’s my promise to you on the air. I am. I am I am fascinated by West Virginia and every corner I turn it over is something new. I think someone said you, you, you always being afraid. You always make me afraid Every year. Everyone’s afraid in West Virginia. That’s true. Yeah.

Something like.

Greg Puckett: That is very.

David Martin: True. And I’m going to go to the newest national park, and I’m going to ride an ATV.

Greg Puckett: Yes, you should. And we’ll help arrange it and put you on a good drought.

David Martin: Sounds great. Thank you very much, Greg Puckett, for talking with us. A great conversation.

Greg Puckett: Thank you. Thank you.

David Martin: The Good government show is sponsored by our CO. That means our community, our CO has found a way to make government even more effective. Article provides a platform that blends in-person and digital interactions and that connects people with their government. Their mobile app transforms meaningful conversations into reliable data, and the result is actionable insights that inspires a positive change.

It’s sort of like having a flagpole. Do you want to know if the community would rather have a dog park or a bike trail? Our coach can get you an answer immediately from the folks in your community. With our Echo, you can engage your citizens or any group, learn what they want and build programs and policies that advance your county, your job creators and your constituents.

So visit our COCOM. That’s 0urco dot com and learn how they do it. And while you’re there, book a demonstration, rebuild, rebrand and move forward. That is the effort Gregg is leading in Mercer County, West Virginia. And of course all between rides on this ATV. But his reason for getting into government is, well, it’s kind of right up my alley, a gift for gab and a way to make people mad.

That’s those are his words, a gift for gab and a way to make people mad. But don’t you scream at them on Facebook. Well, here on the good government show, we don’t want anybody screaming and we don’t want anybody mad. Maybe we just want to inspire people. So that was my conversation with Greg Puckett, and I look forward to meeting him on my next trip to West Virginia.

Thanks for listening. I’m Dave Martin. This was a conversation with Greg Puckett. Join us next time for another conversation with another government leader right here on the Good Government show. The Good government show and a conversation with is produced by Valley Park Productions. Jim Ludlow, David Martin and David Snyder are the executive producers. Our editor and producer is Jason Stershic.

This is a good government show. Thanks for listening.


**This transcription was created using digital tools and has not been edited by a live person. We apologize for any discrepancies or errors.