Sorry, John Denver: West Virginia is not Almost Heaven

John Denver may have considered West Virginia to be almost heaven, but the people who live there prefer to think of themselves as wild and wonderful.

After months of debate, and two online and telephone polls, the citizenry of West Virginia has chosen ”Wild, Wonderful” rather than “Almost Heaven” as their new, unofficial state slogan. Gov. Joe Manchin plans to present the slogan to state legislators early next year in hopes that they will make it official. This is sad, sad news since it would have been cool to honor the late singer around the tenth anniversary of his death; Denver was killed in a plane crash in October 1997. The words “Almost Heaven” are taken from his 1971 song, “Take me Home, Country Roads.”

The slogan controversy began in 2006 when Manchin decided that “Open for Business” would be the best welcome for people entering the Mountain State. But response to this slogan was so negative that Manchin decided to hold a contest seeking a new one. “Wild, Wonderful” and “Almost Heaven” immediately became the top two contenders since both had been used to promote the state in the past. “Almost Heaven” had some powerful backers, like West Virginia first lady Gayle Manchin.

But it was not to be: According to reports, 28,046 voted for “Wild, Wonderful,” while 17,591 wanted “Almost Heaven.” So Denver fans will have to be happy knowing that at least the singer’s home state has shown its love – ensconcing “Rocky Mountain High” as Colorado’s state song last spring. Far out! -- Jonathan Shikes