By RACHEL C. DOVE
TWIN BRANCH; U.S. 119 - “These two counties want this – and we want it bad,” was the opening statement of West Virginia State Senator Art Kirkendoll (District 7) as he and several officials from Logan and Mingo Counties met with West Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Paul Mattox, on Monday afternoon.
The Logan Senator was speaking about proposed plans to begin construction on the roadway that will service the racetrack that will be built at the Twin Branch site. Kirkendoll, who resigned as a Logan County Commissioner to accept the nomination to fill the remainder of the senate seat vacated by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was joined by House of Delegate Justin Marcum (D-20), Mingo County Commissioners President John Mark Hubbard and David Baisden, Mingo Prosecutor Michael Sparks, Emergency Services Director Jarrod Fletcher, Logan County Commissioners President Danny Godby and Willie Akers, Secretary Mattox, Jim Wristo, the Senior Engineering Advisor/Special Programs Manager for Secretary Mattox and others at the Twin Branch location that has until now, been only a dream.
“It’s time to see the dream become a reality,” said Baisden. “There’s been more time put into this project than anyone would ever realize.
“It seems that we’re finally seeing the hard work pay off for the citizens of Mingo and Logan Counties.”
Kirkendoll remarked to Mattox that although the location of racetrack is in Mingo County, he knows that it will also profit Logan County. He stated they will reap a financial gain with tourists traveling to and from the location, and who will more than likely see a jump in overnight motel stays.
“We left Secretary Mattox’s office three months ago shaking our heads and trying to figure out how we could make this happen, “ commented President Hubbard. “After meeting with Senator Kirkendoll, the Logan commissioners, Delegate Marcum and others that were instrumental in making these plans fall into place, we breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s a lot easier to work toward a goal that you know is obtainable.
“By July 1, with the final approval of our commission, the Logan commission and the state, and we’ve been assured those will come through, we’ll be ready to bid this project.”
Secretary Mattox’s attorney will be drafting a financial agreement for the two counties outlining the costs of the project. The state has agreed to match every dollar contributed to the project by Logan and Mingo combined with one of their own. The agreement will outline payments for reimbursement, and the financial obligations and responsibilities of each county.
Specific details of the financial agreement will be released at a later date, and an announcement on the move forward with the Twin Branch project are slated to be announced at Wednesday’s county commission meeting.
“We’ve been working toward this moment for well over the past four years, and it feels wonderful to leave this meeting today knowing that we’re moving forward with this,” said Baisden. “I know there’s a lot of doubters out there who questioned if this was just a pipe dream that would never materialize, and I assure them, we are doing everything we can to create a racing site for our local residents, and for all those who travel here from other areas to enjoy it.
“Sometimes we have to try and try again before we see positive results, and positive results are exactly what we’re looking at today. It didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure, but we never gave up – we never stopped pushing for this and we’re beginning to see the results of that dedication.”
“Projects like these are invaluable to our state,” said Kirkendoll. “It will assist in diversifying our economy. We have all worked tirelessly toward this goal. It’s wonderful to see our counties joining forces and striving to reach a common goal.
“It’s a great day for Southern West Virginia!”
“Myself and Delegate Harry Keith White have worked alongside this project with Senator Kirkendoll while we were in Charleston, and Secretary Mattox is to be commended for speaking with us on multiple occasions as we’ve went back and forth with these plans,” said Marcum.
Mattox’s engineering team promised the commissions they would work on all the steps that must be completed before the bidding phase of the road project, and when Wristo was asked by Mattox if the time frame requested by the commissioners was doable, he replied, “I always come through when you need me.”