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County agencies apply for share of miilions

May 06, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Four Berkeley County agencies are applying for a share of $200 million to be distributed by the West Virginia Economic Development Grant Commission.

The money would be used to pay for projects such as developing a new industrial park, building an airport terminal and completing major additions to county water and sewer treatment systems.

The nine-member commission charged with disbursing the state grant money was created this year by the West Virginia Legislative. The money is to be used by counties to pay for economic development, capital improvements and infrastructure projects.

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Officials at the office of the Secretary of Tax and Revenue said the grant commission will be issued a bond for the money, which will be paid back with excess lottery revenue amounting to about $19 million annually.

The Berkeley County Development Authority, the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority and the Berkeley County Public Service Water and Sewer Districts are seeking a portion of the money. All four agencies have begun the process of deciding what to apply for and how much money to request.

Bob Crawford, executive director of the Development Authority, said the agency is seeking land for another industrial park. The county has six industrial parks.

"It takes a while to develop an industrial park," Crawford said. "There is a lot of legwork to do, such as topography maps, surveys and concept designs.

"You have to have a product to sell," he said.

The Airport Authority will apply for money for a new terminal, authority Chairman Rick Wachtel said.

The existing terminal is an "old dilapidated building not at all suitable for jet aviation or scheduled service," Wachtel said.

A new terminal is being designed and bids are being prepared for the project, which has an estimated cost of $1.4 million, he said.

Wachtel said the Authority may ask for as much as $1 million from the grant commission.

The Federal Aviation Agency has committed $175,000 for design and environmental assessment and $600,000 more to be given out over three years.

The county Public Service Water District plans to apply for grant money so it can move forward on a $6.8 million list of projects to help alleviate the county's water crisis. The district's 30,000 water users have been under mandatory water conservation restrictions since the end of February.

The district's board has compiled a list of five projects:

- Increase the Potomac River intake and upgrade the water treatment plant at a cost of $3.1 million.

- Complete a north-south interconnection at W.Va. 45, $1.2 million.

- Conduct a hydro-geological survey and dig new wells, $1 million.

- Provide an alternative water source to the south end of Berkeley County, $1 million.

- Complete a filtration system for a W.Va. 9 well, $500,000.

The Public Service Sewer District will ask for the most money - about $11 million - for two projects, said Walter Sebert, executive director of the district.

The district is in the design phase of a $3 million sewer treatment facility in the north end of the county to serve the area from Martinsburg to the Maryland line.

The second project is a collection system that involves laying pipes throughout the Inwood, Bunker Hill and Opequon, Hedgesville areas.

Sebert said the district will have to borrow $8 million at a high interest rate because an anticipated bond from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council fell through.

He said if the grant commission provides the money it won't have to be borrowed.

The deadline for applying for the state grants is July 1, followed by a series of public hearings around the state. Projects will be certified by the commission on Aug. 1 and 2.

For more information, contact the office of the Secretary of Tax and Revenue at 1-304-558-0211.

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