Officials break ground to bring public water to 162 Elgood families

ELGOOD — After eight years of work and determination, 162 families in the Elgood area will soon be getting clean, fresh water.

County, state and federal officials, including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., gathered at Mountain View Community Church in Elgood Friday morning for the groundbreaking of a water line that consists of 67,000 linear feet of new lines.

“The community is eager to have good, clean, fresh water,” Mercer County Commissioner Gene Buckner said as he welcomed the crowd that filled the church’s fellowship hall.

The water will help the residents of Elgood, Twin Oaks Estates and Christian’s Ridge, he said, where wells have “provided poor quality water high in mineral content, fecal content in certain areas, high sulfur content and often a less than adequate water supply.”

The project, which taps into lines from West Virginia Water Company, should be complete by July 2018, he added.

Commissioner Bill Archer then gave the invocation for the event.

“This has been a long time in coming,” said Commissioner Greg Puckett. “It’s about the stamina of the people in this area.”

Puckett said many people worked hard on the project, including State Sen. Chandler Swope, county Administrator Vicki Reed and former commissioner Mike Vinceguerra, all in attendance.

Capito told the crowd the community block grants for these projects “make a huge difference in the quality of life” for the residents as well as the quality of living for the community.

“It’s an absolute need for all of you,” she said.

Capito said it was her first visit to Elgood and the small mountaintop community reminded her of the “bounty and beauty” of the area.

“I am having a spiritual moment in Elgood,” she said.

Capito said she is also working to bring broadband Internet and wireless service to the community.

“You have to have it,” she said, adding that the service is now essential, especially for youth.

Jason Roberts, executive director of the Region One Planning and Development Council, a partner in the project, said a lot of time was spent by many people making the water service possible.

“People don’t realize the work that goes into this,” he said. “This is an endurance race. A lot of people wanted water and did not give up.”

One of those people is Morris “Mossy” Clyburn, a resident of the area who described his water as “red” and said his family has had to use salt blocks to treat it for 29 years.

“This has been a long, drawn-out process,” he said of the project, which was started in 2009 with telephone calls.

Those calls continued, along with many meetings and discussions and involvement.

Clyburn thanked all of those in government who got on board to make it happen.

“Whatever you did on the local, state and federal level, we really appreciate it,” he said. “Everybody needs clean water.”

Clyburn said the project is a good example of what can be accomplished when people have a “common goal.”

As one of the founders of the Oakvale Volunteer Fire Department, he said the water and accompanying fire hydrants will bring better insurance rates as well.

“This is a well-deserved project for a community,” he said.

Dignitaries used ceremonial shovels to break ground on the project beside the church, although work as already begun.

Brian Aluise, representative of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Jordan Maynor with Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-3rd District, were also on hand for the dedication and read congratulatory comments from each leader.

Officially called the Mercer/Summers Phase IV-B Elgood Waterline Project, funding was made possible by the West Virginia Development Office, the West Virginia Infrastructure & Jobs Development Council, WV American Water Company and the Oakvale Public Service District.

Capito stopped at several places while in Mercer County Friday.

At Bluefield State College, she heard an update on the establishment of the Center for Excellence in Manufacturing Engineering, learned about the progress of the new residential hall project at BSC and met with BSC President Dr. Marsha Krotseng.

Capito also toured Mercer County Airport and visited the DISH Network office in Bluewell and saw a broadband demonstration.

Through her support for the Appalachian Regional Commission and U.S. Economic Development Administr-ation, Capito helped secure federal funding for both the Center for Excellence in Manufacturing Engineering and the airport. These facilities, coupled with the Bluefield Commercialization Station she visited last year, have received $6 million in federal funding since 2016.

While at the DISH customer service center, Capito joined DISH and the Satellite Broadband & Communications Association (SBCA) in a demonstration of the latest satellite Internet technology that is helping close the digital divide for rural Americans.

“Cultivating partnerships with service providers is an essential component of my Capito Connect Plan to expand broadband coverage that meets the unique demands of our state,” she said. “It’s important that we take a technology neutral approach to solving the digital divide that is leaving rural America behind. Innovations including satellite technology can accommodate broadband users in our schools, homes and businesses, and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet the employees working at DISH today.”

“Senator Capito shares our passion both for creating opportunity for the talented workforce in West Virginia and delivering connectivity to rural America,” said Michelle Dillow, site manager for the center. “We are grateful for her continued efforts to close the digital divide and appreciate her taking time to visit with our team and get a firsthand view of our business.”

By:  Charlie Boothe
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph