ELKINS - After waiting more than 10 years, 132 residents will finally have access to water service, thanks to nearly $4 million in federal funding presented Friday.
Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office joined with local residents and government officials Friday for a check presentation to Midland Public Service District.
The district was awarded $3,880,000, representing a USDA Rural Development grant award of $1 million, plus $2.8 million in USDA Rural Development low interest loans.
"We have been trying to get a water line to Kelly Mountain Road and Poe Run for 10 years," Midland PSD Chairman Franklin Santmyer Jr., said. "We have the money, but we have other hoops we need to jump through to get it up there."
Santmyer thanked the Midland PSD board members and employees for all their hard work. Midland PSD Board member Elaine Valentine said the group is happy the water lines will be
"It took us a long time to get to this point," point," Valentine said. "Our staff did a lot of work. We feel like our staff here at Midland is the best PSD in the state. We appreciate everything you do for the Midland community and I would like to publicly say to the people of Kelly Mountain and down toward Bowden, our new future customers, that our staff is ready and able to serve you."
Delegate Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, said she thought the project will be a blessing for area residents.
"People don't realize how many folks live in our area that do not have access to public water," Campbell said. "I think this is a great project and it is going to help many of our citizens to be able to know they have clean water and they do not have to worry about their wells going dry. They will have people who are going to provide service to them. I think it's great that in 2014 we got a $1 million grant, and we will finally be able to provide water service to them. This is a great project and something super for Randolph County."
Delegate Bill Hartman, D-Randolph, said water is a vital commodity.
"On Jan. 8, if you went into a restaurant in Charleston, the waitresses said they could not serve you because the water is bad," Hartman said. "Good water is absolutely important. Everytime I go to one of these groundbreakings, I have to say the same thing. It's because of the dedication of the PSD's, both board members and officers, that have the perseverance to make these things happen."
Randolph County Commissioner Chris See said the county wanted to congratulate Midland PSD, and thank the USDA for the funding.
"Midland PSD has been working on this project for 10 years, and when completed, it will serve many people in the Kelly Mountain, Bowden and Poe Run areas," See said. "It is going to be great."
USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Lewis presented Midland PSD with a check for $3,880,000.
"I want to congratulate the board of directors and staff at Midland PSD," Lewis said. "That is where the boots are on the ground and where the customers get served. I don't know how to thank you enough for all you do to get people water."
Lewis said his office is just a go-between.
"We can obtain the money, you can apply for it but we can't make it happen without you all," Lewis said. "You all make it happen. I want to give you a hand."
Carol Cain Bush will have clean water to her home thanks to the new extension.
"People take for granted that just because there is water all around us that well water is plentiful," Bush said. "The reality is that for a lot of us, even if you do hit water, the quality of that water can be questionable. This will make life a lot easier. We have been building a house forever, and part of the holdup is water."
Ron and Pat Gatewood have been hauling water into their home because they have no access to water. They live on US Route 33, the old Stuarts Park Road.
"I feel like a pioneer," Pat Gatewood said. "I am so excited about having water I feel like crying. We had a well that caved in and we had four dry holes when we tried to dig wells. We have a meter where we haul 500 gallons of water at a time and put it in a holding tank. It is a big process that takes lots of time. We have been doing this for 10 years."
Pat Gatewood said she and her husband are thrilled with the possibility of water.
"To not have to travel to the laundromat is going to be wonderful," she said. "We are just thrilled."
The Midland PSD was created in 1964 and currently serves approximately 1,450 customers. The Kelly Mountain, Bowden and Poe Run waterline extension project will include construction of six water line
extensions, a main 100,000-gallon reservoir, a main booster station and five pressure-reducing stations. New service will be provided to approximately 132 new customers and improve service to approximately eight existing customers.