Suzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nAt the Region 4 Planning and Development Council meeting last week, executive director John Tuggle reported on several opportunities coming to West Virginia and the region, including a potential forest products cooperative and HUD assistance for flood victims.\r\n\r\nTuggle explained that Region 4 is working with the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Commission and the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority to develop a forest products cooperative.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think the development office is looking at it hard to implement a co-op for woodworking businesses,\u201d Tuggle said. \u201cThe core is going to start in Region 4, but they hope it will grow even outside of Region 4 and be southern West Virginia, and maybe even the whole state.\r\n\u201cThat\u2019s one renewable resource that we have available that really, we\u2019re not tapping into it as well as we can,\u201d he continued. \u201cBased on the information we\u2019re receiving, there\u2019s a door opening that maybe some of those wood products are going to be competitive with the China market.\u201d\r\n\r\nWest Virginia hardwoods are currently being shipped to China, manufactured into furniture which is purchased by the US and shipped back to this county, Tuggle said.\r\n\r\nTuggle said the organizations involved with developing the cooperative are seeking grant funds to help market the idea that the woodworking industry needs to stay in this country, specifically in West Virginia.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe grant money, some of that is going to go to do some really heavy duty marketing,\u201d he said. \u201cIt will be everywhere \u2013\u00a0national and global marketing. That\u2019s one thing we\u2019re thinking has a shot at making some impact in the region.\u201d\r\n\r\nMarlinton mayor Sam Felton attended one of the development meetings and said it is important to look at ways to increase the forestry industry in Pocahontas County.\r\n\r\n\u201cWith some of the information coming out of the meetings we\u2019ve attended, it is amazing,\u201d Felton said. \u201cWhen I heard one of the foresters relate \u2013 get ahold of this idea \u2013\u00a0it\u2019s a good picture. When you think about the equivalent sales in the last few years in the Monongahela National Forest, it amounts to a ten inch in diameter log, three feet long, per acre. That sounds ridiculous, doesn\u2019t it? It is ridiculous.\u201d\r\n\r\nFelton added that he recently attended Pocahontas Day at the legislature in Charleston and learned how some counties are benefiting from timber sales.\r\n\r\n\u201cI saw on some of the school budget information \u2013 Monroe County for instance \u2013 timber sales have given them more than one hundred thousand dollars,\u201d he said. \u201cAt the time, Pocahontas County \u2013\u00a0zero. Everyone knows what kind of shape our schools are in in Pocahontas County, so I don\u2019t just think about that one hundred thousand dollars, but I think about one hundred thousand dollars or more for the last thirty years.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn his research into Monroe County and in Pennsylvania, Felton said the national forests in those areas are being timbered and the benefits go to the schools and government in those areas.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey\u2019re timbering there,\u201d he said. \u201cWhy aren\u2019t we timbering here? We need to at least be aware of some of those things and it is time for that comprehensive plan of Mon Forest to be updated.\u201d\r\n\r\nTuggle also reported that West Virginia has received a large sum of funding from HUD for assistance to flood victims. The state has received approximately $104 million and is applying for $134 million more.\r\n\r\nThe funding will go for housing in Greenbrier and Kanawha counties, as well as Nicholas and others affected by the 2016 flooding.\r\n\r\nAlong with officials from the counties served by Region 4 \u2013 Pocahontas, Fayette, Nicholas, Greenbrier and Webster \u2013 the meeting was attended by Senator Joe Manchin\u2019s representative, Peggy Hawse.\r\n\r\nThe meeting was catered by Harriet & Co. Catering.