GILBERT — Around 60 people recently gathered at Gilbert Town Hall for a groundbreaking ceremony for two waterline projects to bring water to the Horsepen and Browning Fork areas and part of Gilbert Creek.
State and local officials gathered at the town hall, including U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, Mingo County Commissioner John Mark Hubbard, State. Sen. H. Truman Chafin, USDA Rural Development West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and more.
“It’s really nice having so many important people come see this long overdue event,” Mayor Vivian Livingood told the Daily News. “It shows that Gilbert is doing whatever it takes to get clean water.”
The mayor also said that other areas had expressed interest in becoming part of the water project, such as Hanover, and that residents further up Gilbert Creek had asked why the project stopped at a certain place within that area.
“We’d love to keep going, but we can only go as far as the money takes us,” Livingood said.
She said that 450 families would be able to receive clean water as a result of the water projects, with that number expected to increase.
“Now that they see this is a real thing, more people are signing up,” she said.
The Town of Gilbert owns and operates a water treatment plan and distribution system which serves the town and surrounding areas. Gilbert has undertaken two projects, Browning Fork and Horsepen Creek, in order to provide service to areas that currently rely on wells, springs, and cisterns as their only sources of drinking water.
The Browning Fork Waterline Extension Project will bring public water and fire protection service to new customers along County Route 52/2. The Horsepen Creek Waterline Extension Project will upgrade the current system and extend public water and fire protection service to customers in and around the areas of Route 52 to Donaldson Branch, the base of Horsepen Mountain and along Route 13 from its intersection with Route 52 south to Baisden.
On behalf of USDA Rural Development, Lewis said: “Our agency is once again pleased to be a part of projects that will increase the quality of life for the residents of rural West Virginia. These projects will provide a safe and reliable source of water for rural households in the communities of Browning Fork and Horsepen Creek.
“Today we celebrate not only the breaking of ground for these projects, but the commitment and dedication of everyone associated with the Town of gilbert and the residents of these local communities.”
The town received a number of loans and grants for the projects from the USDA, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council. In total, the projects cost $7,329,000
McCoy Construction and Mike Enyart and Sons, along with Welding Inc., will perform the work and lay down the pipes. Motorists should expect some traffic delays. Workers have one year to complete construction.
“I’m excited to see pipes go down so areas can have clean water,” Livingood said.
This is the second project Gilbert has been involved in this year, along with the town’s addition of sidewalks.
“Gilbert is working hard to move forward,” Livingood said.