Federal, state and county officials took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the $7.4 million Norton-Harding-Jimtown Public Service District Phase II Sewer Extension Project - that will provide services to nearly 300 residents in Randolph County - Wednesday at Leslie Equipment Company near Norton.
"Phase I of this project was started as early as 1986 when the citizens of this area complained to the local, state and federal officials about the raw sewage going into the creeks and streams of this area," Randolph County Commissioner Mike Taylor said at the outset of the ceremony. "Phase I of the project was not completed until 2006 to 2007.
"We are here today to break ground for Phase II of the $7.4 million project that will serve the communities of Norton, Harding and Coalton, and the residents in between. The project also includes improvements for the town of Junior's waste water treatment plant."
Officials taking part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Norton-Harding-Jimtown Public Service District Phase II Sewer Extension Project Wednesday are, from left, Delegate Denise Campbell, D-Randolph; Craig Burns, USDA Rural Development Area Director; Jim Rossi, mayor of Coalton; Delegate Bill Hartman, D-Randolph; Kenneth Pomp, chairman of the Norton-Harding-Jimtown Public Service District; Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Mike Taylor, Randolph County Commission; Dot Underwood, representative of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin; Joyce Johns, Randolph County Commission; Luke Peters, Community Development specialist, West Virginia Development Office; and Peggy Hawse, representative, Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (The Inter-Mountain photos by Beth Christian Broschart)
Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., spoke of the many benefits the sewer extension project will provide for the area.
"(I) thank all of you for being here today," Capito said. "It shows me that projects like this do not get done by one singular person. It's everybody working together. That is refreshing.
"I have been your representative since 2001 and I really didn't realize until one of the representatives from my office came back with a story of what was happening in this area in terms of sewer. These were graphic descriptions of what was going on. I thought to myself, could this really be going on? It's 2001. I have to say a thank you to Glen Lee, who continued to call my office saying we had to do something about this.
"So Phase I groundbreaking made me realize how very important things that you take for granted are the essentials of building a community and making it a better place," Capito said. "So for the PSD, congratulations to you."
Capito praised everyone who helped make the extension a reality. She pointed out the project will be a boost for the local economy, as most of the work will come from local companies using employees that reside in Randolph and Barbour counties.
"One of the other things I think is really great is the use of local companies like J.F. Allen and Thrasher Engineering," Capito said. "By creating local jobs and using local companies, it keeps people in the area and allows them to stay in the community that they love. I think that's a good way to use the infrastructure dollars.
"Part of the funding for this was from the stimulus package," Capito said. "I voted against this, so people may ask why I am here. I am here because what I fought for at the time is what I thought this project is emblematic of - in that an infrastructure bill should have more than 7 percent infrastructure in it. If it had been double that, or triple that or quadruple that, think of the job creation and the community lives that would have been enhanced. So an infrastructure bill is a jobs bill and we see that with the funds that are here today."
Local officials said the project will improve the quality of life in the area.
"We are excited to provide sewage after all of these years," said Coalton Mayor Jim Rossi. "This is a real plus for the community. Hopefully, it will allow some growth in the area."
"Anyone who lives in rural areas understands the importance of water," said Delegate Bill Hartman, D-Randolph. "Probably no one in this group today that lives in Randolph County has not had a problem with water, if they have water. Some have to treat the water - some have wells that go dry. This is absolutely a very important project.
"I would like to thank the Public Service District and their board for all of the work they have completed. They are the heroes that make these things happen. And it contributes to a better life in these areas."
Delegate Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, said, "This is really a great opportunity. People who do not live in rural areas do not really recognize some of the struggles we face. I think this is so important for the health of our community and its children. I think it's great people are persevering and not taking no for an answer. This will make the communities stronger and give them the basic necessities that every community should have."
Norton resident Carol Edmond attended the groundbreaking and expressed her enthusiasm.
"I am so excited for this addition," Edmond said. "It has been a long time coming and something we have wanted and asked for for quite a while."