WELCH — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced Thursday the award of $3.43 million in federal funding for broadband, water and sewage projects in McDowell County.
“Today we’re giving away a bunch of money down here and that’s really good stuff,” Justice said during a stop in Welch.
Justice said the funds are part of the $13.1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars that have been dedicated for various water, wastewater and broadband improvement projects throughout West Virginia this year by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The McDowell County Commission was awarded $630,000 for the Bull Creek and Isaban broadband expansion project. According to Justice, the County Commission will be installing 20 miles of fiber lines in this area. These lines will ensure that upward of 300 homes in the area receives reliable internet services.
The second largest award, $1.3 million to Iaeger, is for the Regional Sewer Phase 1 project.
According to Justice, there is currently no wastewater sanitation system in the Iaeger area. To solve this Justice said they will be installing, “12,000 linear feet of wastewater lines and four pumping stations.”
“So many of us take it for granted, so many of us go in and turn the faucet on and just take it for granted, but really and truly for those that don’t have water, are you kidding me? I mean for crying out loud it is our duty to try and do anything and everything we can to at least have people with water,” Justice said.
The largest award, $1.5 million, was awarded to the town of Bradshaw for renovations to the Sanitary Sewer Upgrade Project. The funding will also be for improving the town’s sanitation services for 100 homes, 18 businesses, and two schools.
Justice said politicians typically spend the most money in areas where they believe they can receive the most votes, “It’s not fair, it’s just plain not fair.”
“For you to generate severance tax dollars that are astronomical and then you get a little teeny piece, and every bit of the state shares. Yet, when it comes to crunch time, our politicians then decide that what they’re going to do is take care of the big vote areas, that’s not fair,” Justice said.
At Thursday’s announcement, Justice also discussed the Coalfields Expressway and its unfortunate incompleteness. “The Coalfields Expressway has been in the works now going on 29 years. Well, I am telling you, that absolutely needs done, and it needs done at least to Welch.”
Of the progress on the expressway, Justice said, “We’re meeting on it all the time, you don’t have any idea what I’m doing on all that stuff, but we’re meeting and we’re working on it.”
Justice went on to express his eagerness to ensure that the roadway is completed and that the McDowell County economy can benefit from it.
“Someway, somehow, we’ve got to connect Southern West Virginia to the rest of the world, that’s our lifeblood. Please forgive me, but the best way for me to say this is we’ve got to get the damn road built,” Justice said.
— Contact Emily D. Coppola at email@example.com