The West Virginia Legislature finds that there is a significant need for a public body to promote and enhance historic preservation, tourism and economic development activities that relate to the state's history as a coal producing state within the counties of Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Lincoln, Logan, Kanawha, Marion, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne and Wyoming.
The Legislature further finds that the creation and empowering of a statutory corporation to work with the landowners, county officials and community leaders, state and federal government agencies, and other interested parties to enable and facilitate the development of the national coal heritage area will greatly assist in the realization of these potential benefits.
Unless the context clearly requires a different meaning, the terms used in this article have the following meanings:
(a) "Authority" means the national coal heritage area authority;
(b) "Board" means the board of the national coal heritage area authority; and
(c) "National coal heritage area" means and is comprised of the counties of Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Lincoln, Logan, Kanawha, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne and Wyoming.
(a) There is hereby created the "national coal heritage area authority" which is a public corporation and a government instrumentality existing for the purposes of providing direction to and assistance with state and federal historic preservation, economic development, and tourism projects in the national coal heritage area and aiding in the development and implementation of integrated cultural, historical, and land resource management policies and programs in order to retain, enhance, and interpret the significant values of the lands, waters and structures in the national coal heritage area.
(b) The authority board shall be comprised of twenty members. The following six persons shall be nonvoting members and shall serve by virtue of their offices and may be represented at meetings of the board by designees: The secretary of the Department of Education and the arts, the commissioner of the bureau of the environment, the commissioner of the Division of Tourism, the commissioner of the Division of Culture and History, the director of the Division of Natural Resources and the executive director of the West Virginia Development Office. The remaining fourteen members shall be appointed for terms of four years by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The county commission of each of the county within the National Coal Heritage Area may submit to the Governor a list of three candidates to be considered for Board appointment. Of the fourteen members appointed by the Governor, one member must reside or work in Boone County; one member must reside or work in Cabell County; one member must reside or work in Fayette County; one member must reside or work in Lincoln County; one member must reside or work in Logan County; one member must reside or work in Kanawha county; one member must reside or work in Marion county: Provided, That this member shall be an ex-officio non-voting member; one member must reside or work in McDowell County; one member must reside or work in Mercer County; one member must reside or work in Mingo County; one member must reside or work in Raleigh County; one member must reside or work in Summers County; one member must reside or work in Wayne County; one member must reside or work in Wyoming County; and the appointees must be representative of the tourism industry, the coal industry, the united mine workers of America, economic development activity, historic preservation activity or higher education.
(c) The terms of office shall be four years and shall expire on June 30. No appointed member may serve more than two consecutive full terms. A member shall continue to serve until his or her successor has been appointed and qualified.
(d) If an appointed member is unable to complete a term, the Governor shall appoint a person to complete the unexpired term. Each vacancy occurring on the board must be filled within sixty days after the vacancy is created.
(e) Any appointed member of the board shall immediately and automatically forfeit his or her membership on the board if he or she becomes a nonresident of the county, or ceases to be employed in that county, from which he or she was appointed.
(f) Each member of the board shall serve without compensation, but shall receive expense reimbursement for all reasonable and necessary expenses actually incurred in the performance of the duties of the office, in the same amount paid to members of the Legislature for their interim duties as recommended by the citizens legislative compensation commission and authorized by law: Provided, That no member may be reimbursed for expenses paid by a third party.
(g) The board shall appoint an executive director to act as its chief executive officer, to serve at the will and pleasure of the board. The board, acting through its executive director, may employ any other personnel considered necessary and may appoint staff for the authority and retain such temporary consultants or technicians as may be required for any special study or survey consistent with the provisions of this article. The executive director shall carry out plans to implement the provisions of this article and to exercise those powers. The executive director shall prepare annually a budget to be submitted to the board for its review and approval.
(a) The board is the governing body of the authority and the board shall exercise all the powers given the authority in this article.
(b) A chairperson shall be appointed by and shall serve at the will and pleasure of the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Secretary of Education and the Arts may submit to the Governor a list of three candidates to be considered for chairperson appointment. The authority shall meet at such times as shall be specified by the chairperson, but in no case less than once each three months. Notice of the meeting must be given in accordance with the provisions of section three, article nine-a, chapter six of this code. A majority of the members may also call a meeting upon such notice as provided in this section. A majority of seven appointed members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The chairperson of the board shall appoint from the membership of the authority certain members to serve as secretary and as treasurer.
(c) There shall be a standing committee of the National Coal Heritage Area Authority known as the "Coal Heritage Trail Committee" comprised of the chairperson and members of the national coal heritage area from the counties that the Coal Heritage Trail passes through. These counties are Mercer, McDowell, Wyoming, Raleigh and Fayette. This standing committee shall be responsible for making recommendations to the full board regarding development and promotion of the Coal Heritage Trail, a national scenic byway.
(d) The board shall prescribe, amend and repeal bylaws and rules governing the manner in which the business of the authority is conducted, shall keep a record of its proceedings, and shall review and approve an annual budget.
The authority, as a public corporation and governmental instrumentality exercising public powers of the state, may exercise all powers necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this article, including, but not limited to, the power:
(1) To assist in the development and implementation of integrated cultural, historical and land resource management policies and programs in the national coal heritage area;
(2) To advise the executive director of the national coal heritage authority in retaining, enhancing and interpreting the significant values of the lands, waters and structures of the area;
(3) To enter into partnerships with various preservation groups, landmark commissions, certified local governments, county commissions and other entities to undertake the preservation, restoration, maintenance, operation, development, interpretation and promotion of lands and structures that possess unique and significant historic, architectural and cultural value associated with the coal mining heritage of the national coal heritage area;
(4) To make, amend, repeal and adopt bylaws for the management and regulation of its affairs;
(5) To appoint officers, agents and employees, and to contract for and engage the services of consultants;
(6) To execute contracts necessary or convenient for carrying on its business, including contracts with any other governmental agency of this state or of the federal government or with any person, individual, partnership or corporation to effect any or all of the purposes of this article;
(7) Without in any way limiting any other subdivision of this section, to accept grants and loans from and enter into contracts and other transactions with any federal agency;
(8) To maintain an office at such places within the state as it may designate;
(9) To accept gifts or grants of property, funds, money, materials, labor, supplies or services from the federal government or from any governmental unit or any person, firm or corporation;
(10) To construct, reconstruct, improve, maintain, repair, operate and manage certain facilities in the national coal heritage area as may be determined by the authority;
(11) To enter into contract with landowners and other persons holding an interest in the land being used for its recreational facilities to hold those landowners and other persons harmless with respect to any claim in tort growing out of the use of the land for public recreation or growing out of the public activities operated or managed by the authority from any claim except a claim for damages proximately caused by the willful or malicious conduct of the landowner or other person or any of his or her agents or employees;
(12) To assess and collect a reasonable fee from those persons who use the designated facilities which are part of the national coal heritage area, and to retain and utilize that revenue for any purposes consistent with this article; and
(13) To propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, as are necessary to effectuate the provisions of this article.
Nothing in this article may be considered as superseding, amending, modifying or repealing any contract or agreement entered into for the benefit of the national coal heritage area prior to the date of enactment of this article. All obligations, contracts, grants and assets currently belonging to the Coal Heritage Highway Authority shall be transferred to and become the responsibility and property of the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.