Visions of the Development of Salem

By Kevin Zorn

An oil on canvas mural is displayed in the post office in Salem, West Virginia. It was painted by an artist named Berni Glasgow and its production was funded
through the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture. It is titled “Visions of the Development of Salem” and depicts a group of people
receiving mail, in the background is a village and cattle.

 

Berni Glasgow was one of more than 800 artists commissioned to paint 1371 murals, the majority of which are featured in post offices.
Often mistaken as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) initiative, these Treasury funded murals were created with the intent of fostering i
nspiration in the American people who were still feeling the devastating economic and social effects of the Great Depression.

 

It is a testament to the shift in the ideological landscape today that I cannot believe the US Government, in tandem with local governments,
was capable of doing what the WPA accomplished. Yet, here are just some of the facts: from 1935 to 1943 8.5 million unemployed men and
women were hired by the government to build over 10,000 bridges, 620,000 miles of streets and roads, 40,000 new and 85,000 renovated
buildings including thousands of schools, gymnasiums, auditoriums, playgrounds, parks, libraries, college dormitories, tennis courts, and skating rinks.

 

The WPA employed artists, writers, historians, and musicians whose work directly affected the lives of millions of Americans during some of the
country’s most painful years. Musicians hired under the Federal Music Project taught free lessons to 132,000 children and adults every week.
Those hired in the Federal Writers’ Project, in addition to their popular state tourism guidebooks, recorded over 2,300 slave narratives -
an invaluable collection for scholars and historians. Under the Federal Theatre Project 1,000 plays were performed across the country every month.
Incalculable is the number of children and adults inspired by this work.

 

Through the colossal endeavors of the WPA in both its pre-war effort and its public projects America achieved full employment by 1942,
the same year “Visions” was painted in Salem.

 

It is clear that the America many of us grew up in, the structures that supported our lives, the parks we enjoyed, the schools we attended,
the infrastructure we relied upon for travel, even the art classes that inspired the next generation of creators was largely built under the
auspices of the WPA and the New Deal.

 

This is a salient reminder that capital “H” History is not simply a collection of memorized facts and figures, dates and obscure names.
No, History is alive in the communities in which we live. It not only teaches us, it haunts us as well. It haunts us with what was
possible before and what is possible tomorrow.

 

Perhaps that is the greatest battle waged in the spectacle of media and politics today - the question of what is possible.
Our expectations are managed lower and lower. We learn that the climate crisis is inevitable, that homelesness is natural,
that workers are essential until they ask for a living wage. All to say that change is impossible. Visions of better futures recede from view.

But history haunts us with an alternative. By the time Berni Glasgow painted the mural in the Salem post office, the American
government had provided millions of meaningful jobs improving, with concrete and paintbrushes, nearly every community across the nation.

 

Nick Taylor, the author of “American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA”, writes this: 

 

“These ordinary men and women proved to be extraordinary beyond all expectation.
They were golden threads woven in the national fabric. In this, they shamed the political philosophy
that discounted their value and rewarded the one that placed its faith in them,
thus fulfilling the founding vision of a government by and for its people. All its people.” 

 

This weeks front page:

 

 

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August 12, 2014—Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG), a unit of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), today announced a total of $1.75 billion in new investment in infrastructure that will enable it to transport up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/D) of natural gas from Marcellus and Utica production areas to markets served by its Columbia Gas Transmission (Columbia Transmission) and Columbia Gulf Transmission (Columbia Gulf) pipeline systems.

 

The new investments include two significant projects, one of which involves construction by Columbia Transmission of a new natural gas pipeline in Ohio and West Virginia that will enhance its existing infrastructure and support natural gas supply development in western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. 

 

“We have been a part of Ohio and West Virginia for more than 100 years and have an unparalleled footprint in the Marcellus and Utica production areas,” said Glen Kettering, CPG’s chief executive officer.  “These newly announced investments reaffirm our commitment to this important region and will increase the capacity and flexibility of the Columbia Transmission and Columbia Gulf systems to further enhance transportation options for producers in Appalachia.  In addition, this investment will further support our commitment to economic growth and development by creating new project-related jobs and generating ongoing tax revenue for local communities.” 

The proposed Ohio and West Virginia pipeline, known as Columbia Transmission’s Leach XPress project, is supported by long-term firm service agreements with Range Resources - Appalachia, LLC, Noble Energy, Inc., Kaiser Marketing Appalachian, LLC and American Energy Utica - LLC.  The project, which involves construction of approximately 160 miles of pipeline, compression and related facilities on Columbia Transmission’s system, will provide access to multiple Marcellus and Utica receipt points and establish a substantial new header system serving the heart of the Appalachian supply basin.   

Delivering Appalachia Supplies to Growing Markets 

As production volumes continue to grow in the Marcellus and emerging Utica shale plays, Columbia Transmission has been working closely with natural gas producers to provide new transportation options to move gas out of the capacity-constrained supply basin and into the interstate market.  The Leach XPress project will increase the capacity of Columbia Transmission’s system by 1.5 Bcf/D and move regional gas supplies to various markets, including its  interconnect with Columbia Gulf in Leach, Kentucky.  By connecting production areas to Columbia Transmission’s mainline system, the project will allow producers access to high-demand energy markets and support delivery of affordable, domestic energy for consumers.   

A second project included in the overall investment announced today, which is supported by long-term firm service agreements with the same four shippers, will provide additional capability for shippers to efficiently transport Appalachian production to markets via Columbia Gulf, which spans a corridor stretching from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Appalachia.  Columbia Gulf’s Rayne XPress project primarily involves the addition of compression to Columbia Gulf’s existing pipeline facilities to provide transportation of over 1.0 Bcf/D for the project shippers.   The project is supported by long-term firm shipping contracts. 

Focus on Safety and the Environment 

In addition to generating substantial local economic benefits, CPG’s projects are designed, constructed and operated with a core focus on safety and respect for landowners and local natural resources.  CPG’s efforts to meet and exceed safety and environmental standards have earned the company awards and recognition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Gas Association.  CPG also shares in NiSource’s worldwide status as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies as determined and designated by the Ethisphere Institute. 

Working Closely with Residents and the Community 

CPG has already begun extensive outreach to landowners and communities in areas where the projects will take place.  Prior to construction, the projects will undergo comprehensive and transparent environmental reviews overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Throughout the review period, CPG’s project teams will continue to work closely with landowners, local officials and communities to provide up-to-date information and ensure community involvement in the process.   

 

CPG anticipates initiating construction of both projects in fall 2016, with a targeted in-service date during the second half of 2017.