By GOV. JOE MANCHIN

CHARLESTON -- I recently traveled to Hampshire County and the historic city of Romney to discuss infrastructure needs with the county commission, area mayors and local officials. Like those from any county or city across our state or across the country, they have a priority list of worthwhile projects they'd like to see happen, and for which they'd like state assistance.

As I've said many times, if we expect to be able to attract new businesses and keep our existing businesses healthy, we have to provide the basic services they need to operate. At the foremost of those needs are healthy, potable water and modern wastewater treatment systems.

On my visit to Romney, we broke ground on the Green Spring wastewater treatment facility – a high-priority project that will affect nearly 100 households in that community. Green Spring residents have relied on failing septic systems that were improperly treating sewage that, in some cases, was pooling on the surface of the ground.

It is an environmental issue and a health hazard to those residents, not to mention a deterrent to growth in the region. That's why my administration is committed to building West Virginia's infrastructure.

For the Green Spring project to be successful, it requires cooperation and a shared goal among the people within the community and the county. City and county officials in Hampshire County are extremely dedicated to working together for the appropriate growth of the county. This new wastewater plant will help to meet the immediate needs of the residents and assist in future industrial growth.

This nearly $3 million project also required assistance from a number of agencies on the local, state and national level. That includes more than $1 million in Small Cities Block Grants and more than $1 million in Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council grants, in addition to a $400,000 appropriation directed last May from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

Since 2005, we have awarded more than $35 million in Small Cities Block Grants, leveraging more than $50 million in additional funds. And as the states' co-chairman of the ARC, I have made infrastructure a priority for the commission during my tenure. I'm pleased to report that Congress has approved additional funding this year for the ARC's non-highway program. That means more well-deserved federal funds available for infrastructure development in our state and our region.

There are a lot of projects, such as Green Spring, that need and deserve our attention. And while we can't make every one of them happen as quickly as we'd all like, I can assure you, from water and sewer to roads and broadband Internet access, building West Virginia's infrastructure will continue to be a top priority of my administration.

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