Open For Business

An excerpt from my soon to be published memoir, Morgantown to San Francisco. 

Open for Business

It is so crazy, blowing up the mountains in the mountain state. Governor Joe Manchin changed the state motto appearing on billboards welcoming visitors from Wild and Wonderful to Open for Business, as if that wasn’t obvious from the massive destruction wrought by coal, timber, natural gas, and chemical businesses. Looks like someone left the door open a long time ago and Manchin was rubbing our nose in it.

For Manchin to think that Open for Business was a good idea told me something about his intelligence. As a former coal broker, Manchin’s allegiance was obvious for a long time. Public outrage forced him to return to Wild and Wonderful, which itself had been invented by public relations hacks, under Governor Arch Moore to replace The Mountain State motto.

Arch Moore eventually spent three years in federal prison for lying and stealing. Long before Moore went to prison, Governor Wally Barron set a high bar. He got caught bribing the head juror in a trail in which Barron was being tried for bribery.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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