by Kate Shunney
Morgan County Commissioners have accepted a $400,000 Division of Highways Industrial Access Road Grant from the West Virginia Department of Transportation. This is the first time in recent memory that a county project qualified for the grant program, said county officials.
The money will be used primarily for work on a new turning lane to manage employee and truck traffic in and out of Caperton Furnitureworks.
An estimated daily traffic to the furniture plant is 300 vehicles per day. The company estimates 25 tractor-trailers pull into their facility each week.
The grant doesn’t require any match from the county.
“We know how much turning lanes help,” said Commissioner Bill Clark, who pursued the grant. The county’s Grants Administrator, Anna Padilla, prepared the grant application with assistance from Region 9 Planning and Development.
In pitching the grant application, Clark said Morgan County has rarely had an industrial project large enough in scope or dollar figure to qualify for the DOH grant program.
Caperton Furnitureworks, a wood furniture manufacturing company that builds bedroom, dining, office and living room furniture under the Gat Creek brand, is planning to expand their operations along U.S. 522. Excavation is already visible behind the existing plant.
According to the DOH grant application, Caperton is expected to invest $4.25 million in the building expansion and another $2.1 million in equipment at the Berkeley Springs facility.
Construction on the expansion is anticipated to start in early September, according to the grant documents. The new facility could open for business in July of 2022, with 25 more employees added to the company’s payroll.
The Morgan County Planning Commission will consider the company’s commercial building plans and site plan at their August 24 meeting.
The grant application specifies that the West Virginia Division of Highways will provide the design and roadway plans for the Industrial Access Road work and administer construction of the planned entrance.