The Ten People Who Changed Our Region in 2006

By: Scott Saxton
By: Scott Saxton

West Virginia and Kentucky lost several coal miners due to accidents in 2006. Those deaths lead to some changes in the law pertaining to coal operations this year. That inspiration for change is why 62% of our viewers voted for the coal miners as the group that changed our region the most in 2006.

In Kentucky, there are new regulations pertaining to drug abuse in the mines. In West Virginia, Governor Joe Manchin pushed through legislation in hours, not weeks, to change the way accidents are reported among other things. The legacy of this deadly year in the coal mines will be felt for years to come.

The second biggest impact came from a man with one name -- McG. His name is actually Joseph McGinty Nichol, but this Hollywood director brought a little flash and a lot of attention to the city of Huntington this year. McG directed "We Are Marshall" -- the true story of the impact on the city of Huntington after the crash of the Marshall University airplane for the football team in 1970. McG came back to Huntington time and time again, even after filming ended, to promote the city to others. He has brought a lot of positive attention to our community. 44% of our viewers agree McG changed our region in 2006.

36% of viewers say Governor Joe Manchin in West Virginia changed our region. The governor admits he had a good year. He was the face of our state while national news covered tragedies at coal mines in Upshur and Logan Counties. He pushed through legislation in record setting time to change coal mine laws. He even saw his plan come to fruition with WVU and Marshall playing a football game again. In November, Manchin put his political capital on the line by promoting his party and some potentially vulnerable allies. His party retained power in West Virginia's legislature. Exit polls showed Manchin with a more than 80% approval rating with two years left in office.

35% of viewers chose the sole survivor of the Sago Mine Disaster, Randy McCloy. McCloy's poignant letter to the surviving family members of the explosion told of his coworkers final moments. His survival also changed our region. Doctors have been able to learn more about the effects of carbon monoxide on an individual, because of McCloy's ability to survive and now recover.

Logan Goodall, a toddler from Putnam County who died in 2005, helped change our region in 2006. 10% of viewers say Goodall's name inspired the change in West Virginia's legislature pertaining to sexual abuse laws. The discussion was one of the major topics among politicians this year. Goodall's family lobbied for harsher penalties. They got their wish in a special session of the legislature.

Several others received votes in our "Who Changed Our Region in 2006?" special.
Huntington High basketball star O.J. Mayo for the attention he brought to an already solid basketball team. Many of the HHS games are moved to larger arenas to accomodate fans.
The Melcher family in Portsmouth fought back against home invaders. They took their case to court, testified under stressful circumstances and scored a victory for crime victims everywhere.
WVU coach Rich Rodriguez brought home a BCS bowl victory for West Virginia on New Years Day 2006. He helped put WVU back on the map as a national powerhouse.
Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship spent his own money to energize the political process in West Virginia and set the course for the election season. He did not get the change he wanted, but his money created a lot of discussion over the process.
Dr. John King left Putnam General Hospital years ago, but the cloud of controversy that surrounds him nearly brought down PGH in 2006. Hospital officials announced plans to close the hospital because of a flurry of lawsuits against King's practices and the negative publicity surrounding the circumstances. CAMC eventually bought PGH.

Here are your final percentages:

62% - Coal Miners in WV and KY
44% - McG
36% -- Gov. Joe Manchin
35% -- Randy McCloy
10% -- Logan Goodall
8% -- O.J. Mayo [TIE]
8% -- Melcher family [TIE]
7% -- Rich Rodriguez
5% -- Don Blankenship
.002% -- John King

405 people voted

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