The Raleigh County Commission may be embarking on another water project after learning that 24 families along South Sandbranch Road are without public water access.
Keith Greenwood and Mike Gunnoe spoke before the commissioners during their regular meeting on Tuesday, December 21, on behalf of 65 people who are experiencing poor well water quality due to blasting from a nearby quarry.
He explained that Central Supply in Mt. Hope owns the rock quarry located close to the homes.
“The farthest house, the way a crow flies, is probably two miles from that rock quarry,” Gunnoe said. “We are not here to complain about them, because they produce a lot of jobs and a lot of money for the county and in the state, but in their blasting…what happens, when they put the blast off, it creates a concussion that will literally lift the earth in our area and drop it.”
“Every time it does that, it closes off water supply to our wells,” he continued. “Our wells have been going dry now since, if you look at this, it is documented, December 5, 2018 at 4:10.”
He said that on that day, the quarry set off a blast that “shot out instead of down,” sinking about six wells on the road. A new $8,000 well had to be dug, but it has now been sealed off too.
“We desperately need water,” Gunnoe said. “We have had to haul water, 3-400 gallons at a time from Tamarack. It’s lucky we can get it from there.”
“At one time…they couldn’t cross the turnpike to get to South Sandbranch Road,” Gunnoe said of efforts made by those in the past to get public water lines to the area. “Now, they are being run to, what we call, the old John Wooton farm.”
He said the stretch of road that needs a water line is approximately three miles long. He also said that residents recently had a water quality assessment performed on their water, and it showed that E. Coli bacteria was present in the supply.
Commission President Dave Tolliver then called for Kevin Price, Raleigh County Fire Levy Coordinator, to speak with Greenwood and Gunnoe about their needs.
He told Price to find out how large in diameter a water pipe is needed for the area (to support the installation of fire hydrants), where current water lines are located and where the current line stops. He said that a pre-bid process would need to take place to see how much the project will cost, but that he would speak with Beckley Water Company on financial assistance.
He also said that County Attorney Bill Roop would need to look at what legal rights the county and residents have to file a claim against Central Supply to help fund public water access.
“Believe me, I know all about wells being sunk,” Tolliver said. “When I was growing up, they sunk our well and we didn’t have water. So, believe me, I feel for you.”
“I wasn’t aware you all didn’t have water,” Tolliver continued, as he spoke of current county-wide public water access projects. “Right now, we have almost 98 percent of all people in Raleigh County with water.” He said once current projects are finished, they will, basically, be done getting water to all residents.
“We will do everything possible to get you water,” Tolliver concluded.
In other Raleigh County business,
– Commissioners approved a drawdown of $3,166.89 for the Airport Road Broadband Project to Spillman, Thomas & Battle for legal services;
– Commissioners approved the purchase of five new Motorola APX mobile radios for Sheriff’s Department vehicles in the amount of $16,146. The radios will be placed in the five new vehicles ordered for the department;
– Commissioners approved the AML Pilot Pay Request Number 6 in the amount of $39,414,20 for the 15 mile Rails to Trails project at Clear Creek.
– Commissioners approved a Thrasher Environmental Report Contract with an increase of $6,544.12 for Environmental Consultants on the Rails to Trails Project;
– Commissioners approved a Memo of Understanding between the Raleigh County Commission and North Beckley Public Service District Public for $2 million to be taken from the county rescue fund for the purpose of getting sewer to almost 400 residents in the Piney View/Batoff Mountain area;
– Commissioners decided to withdraw and dismiss their condemnation against the Durgan property, which was once the home of Yesterday’s Bar and Grill, located in Glen Morgan along Ritter Drive. The bar and grill burnt down in 2019.
The property was seized earlier this year in an eminent domain claim by the Raleigh County Commission, who stated they intended to beautify the area. The commission offered the Durgan’s $1,000 for the property, but local realtor, Brian Brown, stated that the property was worth considerably more than what the county had offered.
Roop stated during the recent meeting, that an appraiser valued the property at $9,000 and that Brown has two contracts on the property with the minimum value set at $25,000.
This places both parties back in the same position that they were in before a contract was made, Roop stated. A county lien is still in effect on the property in the amount of $2,500.
“It’s a win, win. It’s a good deal,” said Commissioner Greg Duckworth as he made the motion to dismiss the condemnation of the property. “The property’s been cleaned up. It was in a flood zone and in the Piney Creek watershed. It had become a dump site with an old boat–people were dumping trash in it. It got cleaned up. Mr. Brown claims they can sell it…and I look forward to them making it pretty.”