Mingo and Martin Counties make "25 worst counties" list

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MINGO COUNTY, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- Ivan McLaughlin was born in Columbus, but moved to Mingo County to work in the coal industry.

"We've lived here over 30 years and we love it,” he said.

It's where he raised his kids and where he now spends time with his grandchildren, a place he's proud to call home.

But a recent article published by a USA Today content partner, 24/7 Wall Street, ranks Mingo County at number 17 in a list of "the 25 worst counties to live in."

The list is based on three measures that include a bachelor's degree attainment rate, poverty rate and average life expectancy at birth.

This is something that McLaughlin disagrees with. He says there’s a strong sense of community there.

"Everybody knows everybody, everybody helps everybody,” he said.

Just over the bridge in Kentucky, Martin County is listed at number 20.

"This is just another slap in the face to say, ‘Hey you're still poor,’” Martin County resident BarbiAnn Maynard said.

Although the county has been plagued by a water crisis and a lack of funding for its sheriff’s department, Maynard says the criteria they used to make the list are just a fraction of what these counties really are.

"A lot of people that have come together and have helped so many of their fellow neighbors in need, during the floods,” she said.

Her neighbor over the river agrees.

"I’ve been all over the world but Kermit, West Virginia is my home,” McLaughlin said.

Floyd County, Kentucky and McDowell County, West Virginia are also on the list.

Floyd comes in at number 25 and McDowell County is number four.

The article cites the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation for data on life expectancy. The rest of the data is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, which provides 5-year estimates.