Belington is one step closer to starting a major $4 million project to upgrade and expand water distribution and treatment.
Gov. Cecil Underwood has recommended Belington receive $250,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission Investment Program this year. The money is part of more than $8 million in federal grants that the ARC will distribute through the West Virginia Development Office to 22 communities across the state this year.
"Our water system is very old," said Belington Mayor Johnny Raschella. "We need a new plant and new lines. This money is just some of the money that will be needed to complete the project. This is just the beginning."
The project, when completed, will upgrade the city's water distribution system and water treatment plant, which will correct existing service problems, provide better fire protection and also provide the necessary infrastructure to expand service to outlying public service districts, Raschella said.
"Economic development is a big goal for us right now, and you need that infrastructure in place to provide services and utilities before you can expand," he said. "One of the biggest things we've got going right now is the (Belington) Industrial Park. We've got some things out there already and we were hoping to get the regional jail, so we have a lot of room for expansion."
Although no firm decision has been made, state Regional Jail Authority officials have announced plans to build the final regional jail in the system in Randolph County. A public hearing on the matter is planned for later this spring.
Upgrading the water system also will allow city workers to better cope with the volume and demand for clean, quality water, Raschella said. Belington currently services about 950 customers.
Raschella was unsure how many new customers would be taken into the system or how long the entire project would taken. Construction could begin within the next year, he said.
The 13 state governors representing the Appalachian region are expected to formally approve the ARC Investment Program later this month.