Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 13, 2013

Turnpike numbers don’t add up

By WILSON BUTT
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital is proud of its newly renovated and expanded Emergency Department. The hospital and the Greater Bluefield Area Chamber of Commerce announce an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility will be held on Monday at 11 a.m.

They invite folks in the area to come and enjoy the refreshments, take a tour, speak with their providers, and — weather is permitting — check out one of the Life-Guard helicopters. The new facility is a great thing for the area.

444

Some are predicting a worst-in-years flu season. I recently noticed a sign on the front door of one home in Havaco. It read, “Please don’t knock on the door. We are all sick.” If you haven’t had a flu shot, you should reconsider. The flu has been reported in 41 states and 29 of those states report severe levels. The flu is reported to be widespread in both Virginias.

444

Gasoline at the Crazy Horse convenience store in Pocahontas, Va., was selling for $3.17 per gallon last Thursday. That seems to the best price in the area.

444

Since last week Ellen Light has been approached by many local residents asking her to consider running for the city board. While at this time Light has not fully committed to throwing her hat into the ring, she is considering the possibility.

444

West Virginia recently received $7,036,864 in federal funds awarded for projects as part of the 2012 Transportation Enhancement Grant Program. The federal program provides annual funding to West Virginia communities for non-traditional transportation projects, such as improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists through the construction of sidewalks and trails, acquisition of scenic or historic sites, preserving historic resources and stimulating tourism development. McDowell and Raleigh Counties received $50,000 for coal heritage surveys.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin also presented $824,800 in federal funds for seven projects as part of the 2012 Safe Routes to School Grant Program. Tomblin also presented $1,190,241.90 in federal funds for 22 projects as part of the 2012 Recreational Trails Program. McDowell County received $40,000 for Hatfield-McCoy Indian Ridge and Wyoming County received $40,000 for Hatfield-McCoy Pinnacle Creek.

Notably, no projects were mentioned for Mercer County.

444

Incidentally, has anyone other than me noticed the strong odor of natural gas near the intersection of Highland Avenue and Spruce Street in Bluefield? A few nights ago the unmistakable smell of natural gas was strong in that area.

444

Welch will be opening not one but two new business soon. A new Family Dollar Store and an Advance Auto Parts store have located in the recently renovated building that once was the Super S, a discount store, near the Stevens Correction Center. It also looks like the renovated building is being readied to house a third store in the complex.

444

Bill Seaver might have a point about the fact that if the West Virginia Turnpike ever becomes a “free” road state taxpayers will have to foot the bill. State taxpayers are already footing the bill. We folks here in West Virginia have to cope with higher prices for goods and services that are delivered via the turnpike. That cost has not been factored into any assessment of the matter.

Turnpike Manager Greg Barr recently told the Parkways Authority it would cost the Division of Highways an estimated $59 million a year to maintain the road. That translates to $600,000 per mile. The DOH spends a mere $40,000 per mile to maintain the rest of the roads in the state. Something just doesn’t add up here.

444

There you have it, a few comments on items of interest to the area. We finally had a few blue skies last week and I hope you are having another blue sky today. And one more thing ... Sen. Rockefeller, thank you for serving our people.

Wilson Butt, a resident of Bluefield, is a retired Department of Highways official.