For residents and officials in North Central West Virginia, dealing with state government usually means either endless hours on the telephone or a two-hour trip to Charleston.
But this week, raising environmental concerns to state officials won't be as hard to do.
Director Mike Castle and other officials from the state Division of Environmental Protection are scheduled to conduct two meetings in Clarksburg, according to information from the division's office in Charleston.
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, officials will meet with the citizens. The next morning at 10 a.m., they plan to meet with officials from around the area.
"This will be an informational-styled meeting with the emphasis on the attendees being given a forum to ask environmental questions," Harrison County Commissioner Beth Taylor said.
"It's not going to be a lecture. They're not just going to give us the information of their choosing."
Taylor, who is chairing the meeting, does not know how many public officials will attend, but those from Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Harrison, Preston, Taylor, Doddridge, Marion and Monongalia counties are invited to attend, according to the release.
Residents are invited to discuss any environmental issue with division officials, Taylor said. One topic she would like to see raised involves the impact of a Salem sewer project, she said.
"The folks of Salem have never had this issue resolved," she said.
"This would be a way to bring it to the state's attention and get it on the record."
Having the meeting in Harrison County should put residents who have to deal with state government more at ease, she said.
"Much of the time, individual citizens become confused about who to call," she said. "They can become tired of wading through the red tape."
But this week's meetings will give them a chance to go right to the top with their concerns, she said.
Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404.