Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 9, 2014

Grant could bring more water access to Mercer County

PRINCETON — One family farm in Mercer County hasn’t had running water since it was created in the early 1800s, but a grant resolution approved Tuesday by the Mercer County Commission could eventually bring public water to the property.

A public hearing regarding a resolution to resubmit a state Small Cities Block Grant application for the Mercer/Summers IV-Elgood Water Project was conducted during the county commission’s regular meeting. The commission voted unanimously to approve the application.

Jeff Johnson, community development director of the Region I Planning & Development Council, said the application would request $1.5 million. Approximately $5,128,000 is needed for the entire project. The commission could withdraw the application if the cost of the project becomes too high for individual customers, Johnson said.

Frank Nash, a former Elgood area resident, told the county commission that his family farm in Elgood didn’t have running water when his great-grandfather established it in the 19th Century. Today, his family still has to haul water to the farm. A cell tower was being planned for the Elgood area for emergency purposes, but this will do little good if fire departments do not have access to water, he stated.

“It’s time we’re getting water down there,” Nash said.

The project would connect with previous water projects in the Goodwin’s Chapel and Cheesy Creek areas, and then connect with Elgood, Johnson said before Tuesday’s meeting. Approximately 156 potential customers could be served by the water extension.

Even though a $1.5 million grant wouldn’t cover the project’s entire cost, it could help attract more funding, Johnson said.

“If you have money in hand, it helps you get other grants,” he stated. The Oakvale Road Public Service District is putting approximately $50,000 into the project.

The deadline for submitting the grant application is May 21. Getting a Small Cities Block Grant is a very competitive process, Johnson said. Selections could be made by October.

In other business, the commissioners unanimously passed a resolution honoring the Bluefield High School Boys Basketball Team for becoming the 2014 West Virginia State Class AA Basketball Champions.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved that we, the Mercer County Commission, wish to convey our thanks and grateful appreciation to the Bluefield High School Boys Basketball Team for their outstanding contribution to the county and for having achieved this distinguished honor for their school and our community,” the resolution read.

A new officer who will help enforce litter and illegal dumping regulations was sworn into office. Greg Reed, a former West Virginia State trooper, was recently hired by the commission to enforce litter and dumping regulations throughout the county. County Clerk Verlin Moye administered the oath of office.

“We’ve gotten calls and calls and calls,” said County Commission President Mike Vinciguerra. “People are happy we’re doing something to clean up Mercer County.”

Reed will be working with the Mercer County Solid Waste Authority. Residents are being urged to contact him about areas experiencing problems with dumping and other litter.

Lisa Campbell was sworn into office as a deputy clerk with the Mercer County Circuit Clerk’s Office.

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