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Advocacy group pressures DOH to complete road work properly and promptly

BRUCETON MILLS — We’ve got their attention. Now let’s keep on the pressure, keep communicating and showing the good as well as the bad.

That was the message shared Thursday night at a meeting of the citizen-led road advocacy group, We Stand United for Better Roads.

Jeanne Walsh said at the meeting of about 50 people Thursday that 4,522 signatures have been collected on petitions that “demand responsibility, accountability and transparency.” While the group is based in Preston County, petitions have also been signed by fed up Monongalia County residents and people from out of state.

“I really feel like we are making a difference,” member Brad Bankhead said. “We ended up with some open lines of communication.”

He and other members are meeting and talking regularly with Division of Highways (DOH) District 4 Engineer Darby Clayton and Preston County DOH Supervisor Blain Bowmar, Bankhead said.

And while they want to keep pressure on the DOH to fix all roads properly and promptly, they also need to give credit for the good work that is being done, Bankhead said.

He urged anyone who sees a road being paved or repaired properly to send a photo to the group’s Facebook page, just as they would if it was being done improperly.

Preston County Commissioner Samantha Stone, who made roads her mission when elected, also spoke at the meeting.

“The DOH I truly believe has turned over a new leaf with the new management at our district level,” Stone said. “I believe Mr. Clayton is doing the best that he can. I believe that over time we will see the differences that they are making.”

All the roads won’t be fixed this season, Stone cautioned. She estimated, optimistically, it will take five years to get all roads fixed.

If she could give one state official a tour of Preston County roads, she said, it would be Gov. Jim Justice.

“We need to continue to hold that pressure … to say thank you for what you’re doing, but you have to remember, at the end of the day, it’s their job to do it,” Stone said.

Several people said Salem Five Forks Road in northern Preston County is one of the worse in the county and hasn’t been repaired. Stone said it is one of the roads she’s told the DOH about.

The group is planning a trip to Charleston to deliver the petitions and rubber ducks, each bearing a message, to Gov. Justice.