CHARLESTON, W.Va. – (#WV) “It’s time for West Virginia to share all the goodness that we do here with the entire universe. So that’s what we’re gonna do – we’re gonna reach out and share it with the universe.”
That’s what Gov. Jim Justice told HashtagWV in an exclusive interview on March 15. Per the governor’s request, this story has been embargoed and no information pertaining to the interview was permitted to be released prior to Friday, April 1.
“I’ve been your governor for almost six years,” Justice said. “And together we’ve accomplished some really and truly great things. We’ve built just a tremendous rainy-day fund. We’ve got the lowest unemployment we’ve ever seen, and we ran to the fire with COVID. We’ve led the nation, and in some cases, we led the world.”
Justice, who lays claim to being one of the most universally popular governors in the state’s history, has the facts on his side to support his claims. West Virginia’s “Rainy Day” fund recently exceeded $1 billion for the first time ever, and unemployment rates across the state fell to a record-low 3.9% in February. But perhaps most impressive, in early 2021, West Virginia established itself as the national standard-bearer for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
“I’m proud of you, West Virginia,” Justice went on to say. “I’m proud of your effort. But like my dad used to say – don’t mistake effort for accomplishment. Now we’ve accomplished a lot of greatness, but now it’s time to reach even farther. So as your governor, I couldn’t be prouder than to tell you this right now…we are sending Babydog into space!”
Justice’s announcement comes less than a year after William Shatner, the actor famous for playing “Capt. Kirk” in the groundbreaking 1966 “Star Trek” television series, orbited the Earth. Also, it comes as a report from the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the environmental impact of billionaire-entrepreneur Elon Musk’s “Starship Falcon 9” is expected to determine that project’s future.
“Capt. Kirk was in space,” Justice said, unable to conceal his excitement. “If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what will. And Elon Musk? Are you kidding me? Come on, West Virginia!”
West Virginia’s space program has been 100% funded by Justice himself, under the project name “Operation Wind Beneath My Wings.” Utilizing a previously undisclosed area of the former government facility beneath the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, the project has been in development since late last year. Under the guidance of Scientific-coordinator Dr. Julius Erving, “Operation Wind Beneath My Wings” has been completed nearly 84-months ahead of schedule.
West Virginia’s space program has been 100% funded by Justice himself, under the project name “Operation Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Erving, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, gained national attention in 1976 when he demonstrated a revolutionary take-off procedure, complete with a self-assisted flight guidance system. After stepping away from public life in 1987, Erving lived in relative quiet in the Philadelphia area before being contacted by Gov. Justice in the summer of 2021.
“There is no one I’d rather have running this thing than Dr. J,” Justice told us. “West Virginia is on offense, and Dr. J. is the man you want driving your offense!”
But make no mistake. Babydog, as in the governor’s cherished pet bulldog, will not be making the trek to the stars. In her place will be an unmanned “Spaceflyer” approximately the same size as a Chevy Suburban, that is, in fact, named after West Virginia’s first pup. Should “Operation Wind Beneath My Wings” prove successful, the Babydog Spaceflyer will complete two full orbits around the planet, while simultaneously broadcasting “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in 59 languages.
When asked why the flesh and blood Babydog would not be on board the Spaceflyer named for her, Justice laughed.
“Well, that was my first idea, but Cathy about killed me,” Justice replied through a grin, and with a shrug of his shoulders.
“We have accomplished great things together, West Virginia,” Justice went on to say. “Really and truly we have. And I’m proud to be your governor. We have run to the fire every time. We created Roads to Prosperity. We’ve turned our state into the travel spot everybody wants to go to, and we put our stake in the ground for education.”
Justice went on to tout the “Game Changer Program”, and the freshly concluded “Academic Showdown” as solid examples of the work performed by both public and private entities in support of the state’s youth.
“And there’s the Communities in Schools program that our First Lady Cathy has championed since day one,” Justice further stated. “And they do really good stuff that helps real kids and families. And they help real teachers. If a kid needs a bookbag, they get them a bookbag. If they need a bed to sleep in, they get them a bed to sleep in. If they’re having trouble at home, they help them with that. They give support to the teachers in the classroom. What could be better than that, West Virginia?”
As our conversation concluded, the governor offered his final thought.
“With all the greatness that we’ve accomplished together and all that we continue to do every day, why can’t we put Babydog in space?” Justice asked. “Why is that such an unbelievable thing? Maybe it is just a joke today for April Fool’s… but one day maybe it won’t be. The whole world is watching, West Virginia. Let’s show them why this is almost Heaven.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a fictional interview. While it was created with approval from the governor’s office, Gov. Justice is not funding a space program, nor is West Virginia launching an unmanned mission into space…yet.
Matthew Young has been a resident of Lewisburg, WV since December 2019. Prior to arriving in West Virginia, Matthew resided in the Philadelphia area, where his reporting, commentary, and editorials have been featured in numerous local and regional publications. Previously, he has served as a scriptwriter and consultant for television, radio, and various other short-form digital-media platforms, both within the United States and internationally. Since moving to the Mountain State, Matthew spent eighteen months as senior writer/managing editor for the West Virginia Daily News and is currently an active journalist with the West Virginia Press Association.