Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

February 13, 2014

Family makes plea for water to Mercer County Commission

PRINCETON — A Nubbins Ridge family made a heartfelt plea for help to get public water service to the 87 families that live on the rural route in the Spanishburg area.

“We need water,” Nilene Browning said. “Some people are collecting water in swimming pools and they’re drinking it,” she said. “Some of the springs have been checked and they have E. coli (bacteria) in the water. We’ve needed water for years,” she said, adding that she has canvassed the community with petitions. “I’m here asking for help with water.”

Willis Browning said that last year, some members of his wife’s family came to visit them. He said that after the water ran dry in their well, the visitors drove to Princeton to stay in a motel. “I told them the water should build back up over night. We asked them to come back.”

He said that he and his wife visited Lowes in Princeton and saw a worker using a water hose to clean the sidewalk. He went into great detail as to how the woman was spraying water around every thing outside the store.

“It breaks our hearts, really,” he said. “There shouldn’t be any county in West Virginia that doesn’t have running water.”

David N. Cole, executive director of the Region I Planning and Development Council in Princeton, said he was aware of the efforts Nilene Browning had made to bring water to Nubbins Ridge, but there were several reasons why the application hasn’t been approved. He said that the number of signers fell slightly below the required number of system subscribers to receive a federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant, and added that the water company has refused to participate.

“The problem with ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission) money is that it’s contingent on jobs,” Cole said. “All of these projects require us to put up money.” He said that the addition to residential water bills would also be a challenge. Grant money is really hard to come by,” Cole said. “Things are tight. They have been getting tight and they’re getting tighter.”

“We’re caught in a vicious cycle,” Nilene Browning said. “We’re in a dry trap. We’re in a desert.”

Each of the commission members said they would keep working to find funding. “We will not give up until we get water to everybody,” Mike Vinciguerra, president of the commission said.

Gene Buckner said the commission continues to seek water funding. “Our state, from what the governor has said, is without money,” Buckner said. Terry Basham said that he lives in the same area, and added that he has a family member who has to haul water.

“Region I is serious about this problem,” Cole said. “Two of our employees have to haul water. One lives on Nubbins Ridge.”

In other action, the commission presented a $2,500 grant to Lisa Williams of the Mercer County Animal Shelter and a $5,000 grant to Jennifer Stamper of the Mercer County Commission on Aging. The Commission appointed Philip Ball, Lee Ross and John Perry to the Building Commission, and accepted the resignation of Jack Stafford, building commission chair and Jeff Disibbio.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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