Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 20, 2013

Push for funding — Regional water system prioritized

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— State lawmakers are correctly urging Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to prioritize Small Cities Block Grant funding consideration for the long-planned Phase IV-B of the Mercer-Summers Regional Water Project.

The estimated cost of the next phase of the regional system is $5.1 million, and local officials are seeking $1.5 million in Small Cities Block Grant funding to help finance the project construction. The remainder of the cost would be financed through other funding sources, according to Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo.

A delegation of Mercer County officials headed by Chafin and Tony Whitlow met in Charleston earlier this week to discuss and formally present the project to Tomblin.

The proposed project would extend public drinking water to the communities of Elgood, Twin Oak Estates and Christians Ridge. The water extension would serve 397 individuals and extend water lines approximately 66,545 feet as well as add a new booster pump station, three pressure stations, 29 fire hydrants and a storage tank capable of holding 131,000 gallons of water to the area.

Also present at the meeting was Region I Planning and Development Council Executive Director David Cole, who has been working on proposals for the water extension along with engineers from Stafford Consultants, Morris ‘Mossy’ Clyburn, Mercer County Commission President Mike Vinciguerra and Rachel Lester of the West Virginia Coalfields Economic Development Authority.

“We are hopeful that the governor will consider our request for a Small Cities Block Grant in the amount of $1.5 million which will go along with other funding to complete the project,” Chafin, who is working with Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, on the project, said. “The governor promised to carefully consider our request and when the next round of awards for Small Cities Block Grants are made next month that he will consider our request and work with us. This project is important to Mercer County for both family needs as well as economic development.”

We agree. The project is of critical importance. Not only is it a continuation of the vital Mercer-Summers Regional Water Project — a decade-old partnership that has served as a vital infrastructure lifeline for our region — but the latest phase of the project also is the best chance officials have at getting safe public drinking water to almost 400 additional families in need of a clean and reliable water source.

We urge Tomblin and the state to prioritize funding consideration for this important project. All families should have access to public drinking water in the year 2013.