Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

January 20, 2013

Flood control — Shott Foundation steps up to help city

The city of Princeton is finally getting help in its struggle to resolve chronic flooding along a heavily traveled section of Stafford Drive. After five grant applications for emergency funding assistance were rejected, the Hugh I. Shott Jr. Foundation stepped up and agreed to award the city $250,000. That’s half of the estimated $500,000 needed to complete the emergency flood control project.

R.W. “Buzz” Wilkinson, president of the Shott Foundation, presented the funds to Princeton Mayor Patricia “Pat” Wilson during last Monday’s city council meeting.

“We hope you can raise other moneys to match this and have this project done in the spring,” Wilkinson said. “We are glad to be a part of this and wish you well. Mr. Shott wanted to give back to this area and the people who helped him. We are very pleased to help you.”

City officials were pleasantly surprised by the Shott Foundation donation, Wilson said.

“When Delegate John Shott called me on the phone and told me they were going to give us this money and it was already a done deal, you can imagine my surprise,” Wilson said last week. “We had not applied for a grant. They just called and said they would do it for our city. I think it is wonderful we have foundations in this area who are willing to come to our cities and help us when we need it.”

The city is now working to contact state Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox to see if the state Division of Highways, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, can help with the matching funds needed to launch the flood control project.

Stafford Consultants conducted a free engineering study in 2003, and found installing larger storm drainage pipes on Brick Street could alleviate the flooding issues. Department of Highway crews recently completed a survey of the Stafford Drive area, including a review of where such drainage pipes could be constructed. Stafford Drive is part of state Route 20 and falls under the jurisdiction of the Division of Highways.

High water on the street has been an issue for motorists, residents of Princeton and Lazenby avenues as well as for the Mercer County Senior Center on Trent Street for years. Officials with the senior center often have had to resort to putting sandbags at their doors during storms to prevent water from seeping into their lobby.

The Shott Foundation is to be applauded for helping the city of Princeton to take steps today to correct this very serious flooding problem. With the $250,000 donation from the Shott Foundation, city officials should be in a better position to seek matching funds from the state, as well as other sources and foundations.

However, we would once again strongly urge the state to step up and help the city — particularly now that half of the project cost has been met by the Shott Foundation.

As correctly stated by Wilkinson, it is imperative for work to get underway this spring on the flood control project. The sooner construction can begin on this project the better our odds of avoiding a serious injury or potential flood-related tragedy along this heavily-traveled state thoroughfare.

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