Bland County doesn’t have any incorporated communities, and only one public sewage system in the entire county. The county board of supervisors is continuing its efforts to change that fact with the hope of attracting more development in the county seat.
“We’ve been searching for funding for a Bland County sewage system since 2006,” Eric Workman, Bland County administrator said. “Not having a public sewage treatment system in the Bland community limits us in terms of economic development. We’ve made several applications, and we even tried to break it down into phases, but we’re still running into roadblocks.”
According to Workman, one of the problems that Bland County faces is that 76,000 acres of the county are in the National Forest and the federal government doesn’t pay the county real estate taxes on that land. “With only 6,800 people living in the county and 600 of them being inmates at the Bland Correctional Center, if we were to add another penny to the real estate tax, we would only realize an additional $50,000 per year,” Workman said. “That’s not enough to raise the $10 million needed to build a sewage treatment plant in the Bland community.”
Workman said the county has applied to several federal and state agencies asking for help, without any success. “We need a grocery store in Bland County, but when you go talking to a business that might consider locating in the county, and you talk about a septic tank or package sewage treatment system, that can scare them off.
“Bland County is not a big county, but with all of the thousands of cars traveling on I-77, there could be more businesses near the interstate,” Workman said. “We can reap the benefits of all that traffic, but nobody’s going to seriously consider the Bland community if we don’t have a public sewage system.”
According to Workman, the county is still working with the state Department of Environmental Quality as well as the state Tobacco Indemnification Commission. “We’re searching every possible funding source,” Workman said.
Workman discussed the issue with the county board of supervisors on Tuesday evening. The supervisors also passed a proclamation in recognition and commendment recognizing ABB.
“They built our new bell tower to house the bounty’s historic bell,” Workman said. “Charlie Sarver and everyone who volunteered to build the tower, did a great job to help preserve an important part of Bland County’s history.”