U.S. Senator Mark Warner Meets Community Leaders in Monterey

U.S. Senator Mark Warner visited Monterey on Friday, July 15.  About sixty people attended his “Conversation with Highland County Community Leaders” meeting in the backyard of Big Fish Cider.

Senator Warner spoke about significant investments available for building semiconductor factories in the U.S.  A year ago, the Senate passed $52 billion to support building factories here, which Senator Warner said will provide jobs and will assist with national security, by reducing our reliance on other countries for production.

He also spoke about reform to clarify an old law from the 1880’s to make it clear that no future Vice President could possibly overthrow election results.

And he spoke about funding available for planned infrastructure improvements, such as broadband, roads, water, sewer, and which also includes rural transit.

And Senator Warner said he is also working on improving cell phone coverage. There is $8.5 billion available for mobile build outs and he wants to push companies to apply for the money for Highland coverage.

Senator Mark Warner:

“I think the biggest challenge is we got to make sure the promise of universal broadband becomes a reality, because in a post-COVID world you can live anywhere but you can’t do that unless you got broadband,” says Senator Warner.   “The issue, that ever since I’ve been in the county, in terms of lack of cell phone service, needs to be picked up.  The ability to get capital to startup businesses in rural communities.  Some of these have been issues for a while, but I think we can in a post-COVID world. There’s a whole set of new opportunities, we can look at how crummy things have been in the last couple years, but there’s also, I think, a bright future if we can get this done.”

There were questions from the audience about Ukraine and NATO, the Fairness Doctrine, term limits, expansion of the Supreme Court, workforce shortages, assault weapons and more.

In response to a question about inflation, Senator Warner said he supported negotiation with pharmaceutical companies to bring down drug prices.  He also said more availability of semiconductor chips will bring down car prices.  He supports beginning work on changing our main source of energy, using natural gas as a transition fuel, in addition to exporting it.  He also said he felt that some COVID relief money should have been used instead to work on providing affordable and accessible childcare, to get people back in the workforce.

In response to a question on teacher shortages, Senator Warner supports incentivizing teachers to come from other areas, with a pay bonus, to turn around under performing schools.  He also said childcare availability would help as the lack of childcare, which is not back to even 50% where it was pre-COVID, is preventing young people from going into teaching.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Senator Warner visited The Highland Inn, which is under renovation. He spoke there with EDA Economic Development Officer Betty Mitchell.

“We’re so glad that Senator Warner took a few minutes and popped in The Highland Inn,” said Mitchell.  “From the outside everything looks great, but as you can see from a tour inside, we’ve done a lot of demolition and have a lot of renovation to go.  There’s certainly federal money out there.  We want to access that.  We’ll be working with his staff to follow up to find what opportunities exist and see if we can’t leverage the private donations we have and state funding and get this project finished in as short a time frame as possible.”

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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