County commits $200K match to get funds for water/sewer extension

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commissioners voted on Monday to commit $200,000 from the county’s ARPA fund as a match to potential state and federal funding for a proposed sewer and water line extension down U.S. 522.

In an emergency meeting on August 15, county officials voted to allocate the money from Morgan County’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.

Those funds will act as a financial match in their efforts to secure $3.3 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and  $2.5 million from the West Virginia Development Office.

County officials said there is a short time period to reapply for those grants. Commissioner Bill Clark said Morgan County needed to move quickly to be in the running for the funds.

“If there’s money out there, multiple communities are reaching out and trying to get it,” said Clark.

The project in question would extend public water and sewer lines along U.S. 522 from their current locations south to the Tabor Road area.

New water lines from the Berkeley Springs Water Works and new sewer lines from the Warm Springs Public Service District could serve several businesses located south of Ridersville Cycle, where the current lines stop. Those businesses include Caperton Furnitureworks, which is currently expanding; the bowling alley; Mountaineer Materials Handling; Dawson’s Hardware and associated tenants; the Morgan County ballfield and soccer complexes, along with residential customers.

Engineers and project officials estimate the extension will cost around $6.2 million.

A first application to get money for that extension through state and federal grants was turned down, the commissioners said on Monday. But the county was encouraged to apply again because some funding was still available in this grant cycle.

Commission President Sean Forney praised Commissioner Clark, who he said had lobbied for the state to commit to their match of federal funds in order to keep the project viable.

The Region 9 Planning & Development Councill will take the county and state’s match commitment letters and resubmit the project for funding to the federal EDA.

County officials didn’t know when that funding decision would be made or announced.