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WEST MADSION — As part of his “Do it for Babydog” Vaccination Sweepstakes, Gov. Jim Justice visited Scott High School on Oct. 12 to make a presentation to an award winner.

Scott student Ashley Dingess — a straight-A student — won a “full ride” scholarship to any public college or university in the state in a package officials say is worth over $100,000.

Justice was present, along with Babydog — his traveling partner and pet.

Principal Jacob Messer, Ed.D, introduced the governor to the student body and attendees of the school’s football field.

“This is an incredible area, and sometimes we don’t get enough credit for who we are,” he told the students. “I owe my whole life to southern West Virginia. You are so good, it is unbelievable. When we step forward and do good stuff, good things happen.”

Justice told the students that his grandparents didn’t have indoor plumbing.

“We started with nothing,” he said. “We built our way through it because we worked hard. We weren’t necessarily the smartest by any stretch of the imagination, but we worked hard. Then, with a break here and there, you wake up and you own the Greenbrier Hotel, you’re the governor of the state of West Virginia and you’ve got Babydog.”

He added, “You’ve got great people all around you that are mentors who are telling you great stuff all the time but you’ve got to believe. You’ve got to believe you are the best of the best and believe in yourself.”

Justice touched on vaccination efforts across the state and his stance regarding a mandate.

“With our freedoms as West Virginians and Americans — we decide whether or not we want the vaccine. Those are our freedoms and we should decide, and you don’t need me imposing on you that you’ve got to get vaccinated. I don’t believe in that. I do believe just this — the more people that are vaccinated, the less that will die.”

He concluded, “I don’t have another bullet in the gun, and I can’t stop this. There is only one way to stop it, and the only way I’ve got is for us to get vaccinated.”

Justice brought Dingess, of Jeffrey, down to the podium to congratulate her and her parents, who accompanied her.

Additional winners Connor Reece of Hurricane and Karlee Baisden of Charleston received a visit from the governor at their schools on Friday.

Katelyn Lambert of Harrisville and Joseph Littlepage of Point Pleasant were also announced as scholarship winners on Tuesday.

Also on Friday, Justice announced that SSgt Michael Beall — a firefighter with the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg and the Martinsburg VA Medical Center — had won a new Corvette through the Babydog sweepstakes.

Additional winners were announced for prizes including a custom boat, a dream wedding valued at $150,000, free gas for 10 years, premium ATVs, top-of-the-line zero-turn lawn mowers, WVU and Marshall University football or basketball season ticket packages, and season passes to West Virginia ski resorts.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at 304-307-2401.

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