CHARLESTON, W.Va. – To West Virginians, The Mountain State is Wild and Wonderful and Almost Heaven.
Now, which one of those feelings will grace the state's welcome signs will be the subject of a second poll Gov. Joe Manchin's office will conduct on a new state slogan. The poll starts Oct. 15 and ends Oct. 29.
In September Manchin announced he would conduct a two-part poll of state residents on whether to adopt a permanent slogan for the state's 107 welcome signs alongside roads leading into the state. The poll came two years after Manchin changed the welcome sign slogan to "Open for Business."
Manchin said he had the "Open for Business" slogan put on welcome signs as a way to encourage investment in West Virginia. The slogan hasn't been well received.
Before the poll ended Sept. 19, 61,516 West Virginians weighed in on their choice. Of the votes cast, 58,855 said the state should adopt a permanent state slogan. Another 2,661 said no to the idea.
On Friday, Manchin's office released the top three slogans: "Almost Heaven," "The Mountain State" and "Wild, Wonderful." Residents will only be able to vote on these three, said Manchin spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg.
Other slogans submitted included: "Mountaineers Are Always Free," "Welcome Home," "Mountaineer Country," "Home of the Mountaineers," "Here Everyone is Family," "Take Me Home Country Roads," "West by God Virginia, " "Land for Relaxation," "Herd Country" and "A Little Piece of Heaven."
"Open for Business" also received some votes, Ramsburg said.
"Wild, Wonderful" has been used as a state motto before. Former Gov. Arch Moore started using the slogan in 1969 and it remained on the state's welcome signs until then-Gov. Gaston Caperton removed it in 1991.
Starting Oct. 15, phase two of the slogan vote begins. Residents can either log onto www.wv.gov, www.wvgov.org or www.wvtourism.com to register their choice. Or they can call 1-866-SLOGAN-4.
Manchin has said he will present the winning slogan to the Legislature during the 2008 session so it could be made into laws.
It's estimated that it will cost $50,000 to replace the state's welcome signs.