BEECH CREEK — The Beech Creek community received a big boost on Wednesday when USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Lewis announced funding for a water project that will provide water and fire protection service to approximately 252 households in Mingo County.
Lewis presented a check in the amount of $2,298,00 to Mingo County Public Service District Manager J.B. Heflin at the event at the Beech Creek Fire Department. That money will be combined with funds from the Small Cities Block Grant program ad the WV Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council to support the total project, which is estimated at $4,798,000.
More than 40 people attended the announcement, including Mingo County Delegate Phyllis White; former Delegate Harry Keith White; Mingo County Commissioners John Mark Hubbard, Greg “Hootie” Smith and Diann Hannah and Mingo County Prosecutor Teresa Maynard.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin was represented by his regional coordinator, Michael Browning, a Mingo County native who spoke on behalf of the senator at the event. Senate President Bill Cole was represented by Jason Crowder.
Lewis said USDA Rural Development wanted to make the announcement yesterday in celebration of Earth Day. He said USDA is investing $183 million in 60 water and wastewater infrastructure projects in 33 states through Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program.
“Our agency is pleased to join with the Mingo County Public Service District today as we celebrate Earth Day,” Lewis said. “Earth Day reminds us of the critical role that USDA can play to help protect our environment while safeguarding our nation’s natural resources. With USDA’s assistance, rural communities like Mingo County can build and upgrade their infrastructure to help ensure that rural residents have access to safe drinking water. This investment is critical for public health and economic growth.”
The majority of residents within the proposed service area in Beech Creek currently rely on wells, springs and cisterns as their only source of drinking water.
Heflin said with the completion of this water project, Mingo County will have 95 percent of its residents with potable water.
Hubbard, Smith and Hannah all encouraged residents to sign up for the water. They all thanked the USDA Rural Development for funding the project.
Delegate Phyllis White said that it is a great day for the Beech Creek residents.
Lewis presented Heflin with a certificate of appreciation for his work to help Mingo County residents get water.
The group then moved to the Beech Creek Community Park, where they planted a tree in honor of Earth Day. The check presentation was originally scheduled to take place at the park, but forest fires in the area caused it to be moved to the fire department.