Organization seeks noise reduction
I grew up in Elkins and returned here to retire. The place has exceptional natural beauty. As a child I found my first insect exo-skeleton left on a rock in the Shavers Fork and was hooked on the wild, wonderful beauty of this place ever since.
It was very disappointing in 2012 when the noise from the Hamer Fuel Pellet Factory began to be heard in our beautiful, quiet neighborhood on a hill two miles away from the plant. Because noise rises, it is often more noticeable on the hills around Elkins than it is closer to the plant but on the same level.
Many residents in our neighborhood describe the noise coming from the pellet plant as “a loud drone, often going 24 hours a day, six days a week,” “a distant train that never goes away” or “an engine left running in a neighbor’s driveway.” Others tell us the noise is diminishing the well-being, quality of life and property values for many Elkins homeowners as well as affecting businesses nearby.
Over the last 30 years, pellet plants have been springing up across the United States – most commonly in the south. They manufacture wood pellets made from sawdust left over from sawmills. Though wood pellets are sold for pellet stoves, most production goes to biomass power plants in Europe. As the pellet plants have increased, so have complaints about noise from residents. Many plants have installed sound enclosures to contain the noise to protect the surrounding community and businesses.
Our Citizen’s group, Elkins Make It Quiet! is happy that Hamer Pellet Fuel is providing jobs in Elkins – and we don’t want them to stop their manufacturing here. All we want is for them to be a good neighbor and contain the noise within Hamer’s property.
The group has consulted with acoustical engineers about ways pellet plants can dampen their noise levels. Those of us affected by the noise are looking forward to the peaceful enjoyment of our homes, businesses and community once again.
With smart planning, we can have a balance of industrial jobs without ruining the traditional character of Elkins. In fact, the traditional character of our town combined with the beautiful Randolph County setting will be an increasingly rare and important resource itself. Planning for smart development, while preserving our small-town atmosphere, is banking on future growth.
On a final note, we are being criticized for not working on the drug problem here. That is another, much larger problem and many groups are working on it at all levels of government and in the private sector. I personally have helped several people in Elkins dealing with drug addiction.I encourage our critics to do the same. Helping each other while we create a beautiful place to live and visit is our duty as citizens of Elkins.