CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When work begins later this month fixing up the Governor's Mansion, funding won't be coming from the Executive Mansion Renovation Fund.
Between 2007-2009, under the auspices of the previous occupants, the fund raised and spent more than $1.42 million to repair, renovate and furnish the mansion.
However, the most recent IRS 990 form shows that the fund contains only about $1,100, and that there hasn't been any fundraising to speak of since 2009.
Which may be good, since critics of the fund -- set up in 2007 at the behest of Joe and Gayle Manchin -- argued it provided a backdoor for corporate sponsors, limited in what they can give in campaign contributions, to give unlimited amounts of money.
The work this time won't be anywhere near as extensive as the Manchin's $3.36 million renovation, which entirely redid the second and third floors.
The largest single contract this time around, for repair and repainting of all exterior wood surfaces, has been awarded to W.Q. Watters at an amount of $135,000.
A RFQ for a contract for interior painting and woodwork repair is currently out for bids, and other contracts, including replacing sunroom windows and repairing front door sidelights and transom, are pending.
Some of the last expenditures out of the Executive Mansion Fund were $25,864 for murals and painting, $3,000 for accounting, and $115 in legal fees.
Last week, General Services Division Director Greg Melton got permission from the Capitol Building Commission to cut down six Bartlett pear trees that lined two sides of the north plaza, near the Lincoln statue.
Official word was that the trees were damaged by leakage of chemically-treated water from the two nearby fountains. However, GSD workers say they were told to cut them down so they wouldn't block sightlines for the Sesquicentennial concerts and 3-D film presentations on the Capitol's north steps this week -- particularly to make sure they wouldn't block camera crews filming those events ...
I took a look at the trees in question (before their demise Friday), and while I'm no horticulturist, except for one sickly tree, they all looked green and healthy to me.