Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 8, 2014

Aging infrastructure: Progress in Pocahontas, Va.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — All parties involved in the recent effort to replace a 100-year-old water line in the town of Pocahontas, Va., are to be applauded for their efforts. And it was a team effort.

Town crews were assisted by officials from the Tazewell County Public Service Authority and the town of Bluefield, Va., in helping to make the emergency repair. It was a great example of regional cooperation.

Approximately 400-feet of water pipe was removed from the Center Street area as part of the project. Some of the water lines pulled from the ground were under the original brick pavement that was put down during the early 1900s, according to Pocahontas Vice Mayor Jerry Gravely. That would make some of the lines more than 100 years old.

Gravely said the town had several leaks in the area. He adds town officials were afraid that a larger leak could occur in the area near Rodriguez Funeral Home.

“What we’re doing is putting in a replacement (water line),” Gravely told the Daily Telegraph last week. “We’re afraid the funeral home could be having a funeral when the water line broke; then we would have a mess. We’re trying to prevent that from happening.”

Once the old line was removed from the ground, it was the consensus of all involved that the work was long overdue.

“One worker said it was a good thing we were replacing it. It was on the verge of a major leak,” Gravely said. “It’s going to save us a lot of money once we get the line in, and by we, I mean the town of Pocahontas. Once water goes into the ground, you’re not being paid for it.”

Replacing aging infrastructure remains a challenge for localities across our region. Unfortunately, we have many water systems, roads and bridges across the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia that are in urgent need of replacement or repair.

Gravely correctly refers to last week’s project as a good example of “neighbors helping neighbors.”

We couldn’t agree more. And we need to see more of this type of cooperation between neighboring localities in our area.

When we work together as a region, there is much we can accomplish together.

And sometimes it is simply a matter of helping our neighbors in need — as we saw last week in Pocahontas.