Jim Justice, a former McDowell County mine owner and current owner of The Greenbrier, is building a huge coal preparation plant in the town of War, Brown said.
"There is hope for economic development," he said. "Education is the lynchpin. A big part of what we want to do is to create hope for the children of McDowell County."
The organization's website -- www.reconnectingmcdowell.org -- points out:
* "McDowell County has ranked last in education in West Virginia for most of the past decade."
* "McDowell County leads the nation in overdose deaths from narcotic pain medications."
* "72 percent of students live in a household without gainful employment."
Reconnecting McDowell pledges a commitment to "seeking solutions to McDowell's complex problems -- including poverty, underperforming schools, drug and alcohol abuse, housing shortages, limited medical services and inadequate access to technology and transportation.
"Almost half the residents receive some form of public assistance," the Reconnecting McDowell website states. "Among West Virginia counties, McDowell consistently ranks at or near the bottom in measures of health, income and education.
"Whether you're talking about good roads, public transportation, housing, Internet bandwidth, recreation centers or health clinics, chronic shortage is the common thread. The community has spent decades making do with little or nothing."
Anyone interested in contacting Reconnecting McDowell can reach the group by email at: reconnectingmcdow...@aft.org.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.