Gov. Justice Announces 'Realignment' of Flood Recovery Program, Terminations at Commerce Coming
Gov. Justice has announced changes to the management of slow-moving flood recovery program designed to help those affected by the flood of June 2016. The announcement comes on the heels of reporting that shows poor management on the part of officials in the state development office, little money spent and few flood victims getting assistance.
Justice announced Monday he is placing Gen. James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard in charge of the RISE program and called for a “realignment” of the state commerce department. The governor declined to comment whether department Sec. Woody Thrasher would keep his job.
The RISE program was temporarily halted earlier this year after it was discovered a contract change order for $17 million had not been properly vetted. A subsequent investigation uncovered problems within the Commerce Department and the RISE program, which has $150 million to work with from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
During a news conference, Justice stated that, as owner of The Greenbrier, he helped many families affected by the flood and, now, as governor has identified problems with the RISE program. He said, moving forward, the program will move at “light speed.”
“I’ve done my job. I’ve saved you money. I have rekindled the situation,” Justice said Monday. “I have absolutely, now, uncovered things we are going to fix. I’ve done what I am supposed to do.”
Gen. Hoyer said, in taking over management of the program, the next step will be to identify the number of familes and homes in need of support through the progam.
"I got the direct look from him and I know what he wants done," Hoyer said of his appointment from Justice to take over the program.
Justice also acknowledged the inaccuracy of a November 2017 news release from the state Department of Commerce that quoted Sec. Thrasher as stating that some-1,100 flood victims had received assistance through RISE.
Following the news conference, Justice issued a release stating that a “realignment” at the commerce department is underway and “there will be terminations.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.