What’s Right With West Virginia


Jack Houvouras

Jack Houvouras

In recent weeks I have been talking with some close friends about the sad state of affairs in West Virginia. In national polls, the Mountain State ranks near the bottom in a variety of categories from business climate to education to health and beyond. It’s depressing to say the least. In fact, I was in a funk all winter as I studied the stats that show how far our beloved home state has fallen. Fortunately spring has arrived, which gives me the opportunity to purposely reflect on the reasons so many of us choose to call West Virginia home.

First and foremost is the natural beauty of the state. From the rolling hills of Huntington to the majestic mountains of the Allegheny, West Virginia is blessed with millions of acres of unspoiled wilderness. Nearly any visual delight you can imagine is found here including hills and valleys, cliffs and lakes, waterfalls and caves, rivers and streams. Any list that ranks states in terms of aesthetics would certainly place West Virginia at the top.

If it’s recreation you seek, West Virginia offers up a plethora of options including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, fishing, golf, zip lining, spelunking, kayaking and some of the best whitewater rafting in America. Certainly the Mountain State would rank near the top of this list as well.

For those looking to escape the stress of big city living, West Virginia is the perfect place to call home. The state is dotted with small cities and charming towns known for their quiet, laid-back way of life. You won’t find long lines, traffic or smog here. What’s more, we boast one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

Living here is extremely affordable. In fact, West Virginia will cost you far less than most states when it comes to such categories as home prices, property taxes, rent, utilities, food, professional services and more.

Our state is blessed with a rich heritage of which we can all be proud. West Virginia is the only state to have been formed by seceding from a Confederate State during the Civil War. Our ancestors were fiercely independent, ingenious, creative and hard-working men and women who carved out a life for themselves in a wild and rugged landscape. What better qualities could parents hope to instill in their children?

Finally, there are the people of West Virginia. In all my travels I’ve yet to meet a group as warm, welcoming, courteous, generous and accommodating as the citizens of this state. Unfortunately there are no rankings for any such categories. If there were, we would certainly top the list.

Yes, West Virginia has its fair share of problems, and we must endeavor to fix them by utilizing the inherent gifts passed down to us by our Appalachian ancestors. Until then, this is still a wonderful place to live with an enviable quality of life. After all, there’s a reason John Denver described West Virginia as “almost heaven.”

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