TAZEWELL, Va. –– Two large-scale infrastructure improvement projects proposed for Tazewell County will require a showing of strong public support, officials said Tuesday.

The county’s Public Service Authority has scheduled public hearings for the Springville and Baptist Valley communities in order to solicit support for sewer projects proposed in the communities, County Administrator Jim Spencer said. Both projects are estimated to cost in excess of $6 million, and public support will be necessary in order to secure grant and loan funding for the construction.

“We are trying to fast track everything and be in a position where if money becomes available, we are good to go,” Spencer said. “When the state is ready to award funding, readiness to proceed is a big key. They want to know that you are ready to go right now.”

Spencer said the public hearings are being held to garner community input and support on the projects. A public hearing for phases II and III of the Bluefield Divides Sewer Project will be held on Nov. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Springville Elementary School. The initial phase of the sewer project is nearing a completion, and extends between the Comfort Inn and Camp Joy. A phase “1A” of the project also is proposed, and would extend sewer service into several of the outlining areas and subdivisions near Camp Joy.

A public hearing for the Eastern Baptist Valley Sewer Project will be held on Nov. 9 at the Central Church of Christ in Baptist Valley beginning at 5 p.m. A public hearing for the Western Baptist Valley Sewer Project will be held Nov. 14 at the Baptist Valley Assembly of God Church beginning at 5 p.m.

Spencer said area residents are encouraged to attend the public hearings to show support if they are interested in obtaining sewer service.

“That’s very important,” Spencer said. “If we don’t get a good turnout, then we may not get the money. We need folks to come to the meetings, or contact the PSA office at (276) 988-2243 and let us know if they are interested in sewer service.”

Spencer said there is some indication that funding may be available from the General Assembly in the near future for sewer projects.

“Two years ago the General Assembly funded a sewer study to identify the needs in Southwest Virginia, and that was for all three planning districts — Mount Rogers, over in the Smyth-Bland area, Lenowisco, that’s Lee, Scott, Wise and Norton and those areas far west, and Cumberland Plateau, which is our area, Russell, Dickenson, Buchanan and Tazewell,” Spencer said. “Of the 44 projects evaluated in that study, the No. 1 project in Southwest Virginia was Bluefield Divides. The Baptist Valley project is ranked fifth.”

The initial phase of the sewer project at the Bluefield Divides was slowed earlier this year by the discovery of several endangered mussels in the area. The project is now nearing completion, PSA comptroller Damon Ball said.

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