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Infrastructure the focus of Preston County Day conversations at the Legislature

Improving Preston County’s transportation network was one idea pitched at a meeting between county officials and Mitch Carmichael, the state’s secretary of economic development, during Preston County Day at the Legislature last week.

Improving Preston’s 1,200 miles of roads with turning lanes, reducing the time it takes to travel inside the county, making Morgantown and Garrett County more accessible and building a corridor were all suggested.

“If we can get people quick to where they need to be, in conjunction with getting that housing, I think we’re going to start to see the flip side and some prosperity,” Preston County Commission President Samantha Stone said. “You know, we’re known for agriculture and all the rural things that are all great and wonderful. But if we don’t do something, we’re gonna evaporate.”

Improving the roads would also help businesses — for example, Allegheny Wood Products — get their materials in and products out, Commissioner Don Smith said. 

Stone said she’s fine with people living in Preston County and working in other places, but they need help with building housing.

“We need to offer a median income home. I’m talking $250,000 to $350,000 homes so we can attract the doctors, the lawyers to come and live in Preston County,” Stone said.

Smith said several years ago there was a housing project, including apartments, townhomes and single family homes, set to come to the Masontown area.

“The problem was the infrastructure. The sewer and the water were not able to support these 160 new residences,” he said.

The county’s $8.6 million budget doesn’t go very far when it comes to those kinds of projects, Stone said.

“We need good water and sewage,” said Elizabeth Satterfield, curator and director of education at Arthurdale Heritage. 

She said half the time she turns on her tap, the water is yellow and undrinkable.

Meanwhile, the septic system at Arthurdale is from 1934. 

“We have all these ideas about rebuilding some of our structures and commercial mixed use and educational spaces. We can’t expand because of the infrastructure,“ Satterfield said. “And we’d like to partner with Reedsville. I think Reedsville is on board with this. But it’s, you know, it is a funding thing.”

Carmichael said one of the best uses of one-time funds is to upgrade those types of systems. 

“This really is, in our view, a once in a lifetime opportunity with all this money. I mean, they’re not going to do this again at the federal level. And then the state,” Carmicheal said.  “I mean, this is a generational moment for us.”

He asked for a list of projects and ideas for Preston County and said his office would do what it could to help prioritize, refine and work on the list.

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