Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 2, 2014

Local leaders have high hopes for 2014

PRINCETON — More businesses, expanding businesses, renovations and improved infrastructure are among the plans area leaders hope to see come to fruition in 2014.

In Mercer County, there is always the hope that more businesses will be opened, said Mike Vinciguerra, president of the Mercer County Commission. This is a goal the Development Authority of Mercer County is always working on, he stated. The commission has other goals, too.

“I’d like to see some of the water projects we have going on right now completed,” he said. “We’ve got one going on Bramwell Hill. That should be through in the spring. About a month or six weeks ago, a contract was opened in the Eads Mill Road project.”

Another water service project is underway in the Windmill Gap area. Starting a water project normally takes 60 to 90 days after a contract is awarded. Contractors must then get the necessary permits and equipment in place, Vinciguerra said.

The county commission has submitted an application for a $1.5 million state grant to complete a water project in the Cheesy Creek area, he added.

In neighboring Tazewell County, Va., the county board of supervisors hopes to attract businesses to the new Bluestone Business and Technology Center and other parts of the county, said County Administrator Jim Spencer. Local leaders also to continue helping existing businesses to expand.

“And there are other projects,” Spencer said. “There is a natural gas project in he west end of the county. The Tazewell County PSA is expanding the Claypool Hill Sewer Plant. Claypool Hill is a booming area.”

Work will also continue on expanding infrastructure such as water, sewer, natural gas and broadband Internet throughout the county,” he said.

In McDowell County, the hope is to create more middle-income housing, said Gordon Lambert, president of the McDowell County Commission. One plan calls for creating a Teachers Village in Welch. Another is to create more housing in the Mount View and Stony Ridge areas for federal prison employees and coal miners.

Local cities also expect to see advances in 2014.

“2013 was a banner year for Princeton,” said City Manager Elke Doom. “We've had several new businesses open this year, a theater restoration project underway, murals, artist alley as well as new signs, fountain restoration and landscaping improvements. The matching grant program for facade improvement was a success and will continue in 2014 for all businesses in the city.”

Doom expected to see more improvements this year.

“2014 promises to be even better as we continue to revitalize and reinvigorate our historical Mercer Street shopping district  and expand our efforts to Thorn Street with the anticipated painting of the Thorn Street bridge by the Department of Highways this summer,” Doom said. “City Hall will have a new location as will New River Community College. Valley College is expanding into an adjoining building on Mercer Street. Look for more events downtown;  a cruisers reunion, festivals, movies, museum tours, library events and more as the new year unfolds.

In Bluefield, 2013 was a good year, too, said City Manager Jim Ferguson.

“We saw a record number of building permits pulled representing over $10 million,” Ferguson said. “Forty seven condemned properties were demolished. Extensive upgrades in infrastructure were made throughout the city. Downtown revitalization is occurring on Commerce Street. The Scott Street parking center, the interpretive walk and Bland Street sidewalk projects were completed.”

Bluefield Regional Medical Center announced an investment of more than $5 million in its ICU and MRI center, Ferguson said. In 2015, the city hopes to see four new  businesses open. Work on clearing away condemned structures will continue.

“I’m very hopeful for assistance from the National Guard for demolitions of blighted properties in our city,” Ferguson said. “The sooner we rid our city of blighted properties, the better. We will continue the emphasis on economic development in our city.”

Work on public property and the search for grants will continue, too.

“Our future is bright with vast potential,” Ferguson said. “We must focus on what we have and not what we had. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem. It’s up to us to make 2014 a great year.”

Cross the state line in Tazewell,Va., Mayor A. Donald Buchanan said the town had several projects to complete in 2014. One is the Drytown sewer project. Another is a three-lane improvement for Route 61 from Lincolnshire to Salt Town. Work on economic development and bringing new businesses to the town will continue as well.

“We have a train station we’re planning on renovating, and hopefully we’ll get that off the ground,” Buchanan said.

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