MORGANTOWN — Gov. Jim Justice is aware there’s some skepticism.
He knows there are questions about whether the state actually intends to build a new $70 million bridge across the Monongahela River and a new Harmony Grove interchange on I-79 to increase interstate access to the Morgantown Industrial Park.
He addressed it Thursday during a brief stop at Mountaintop Beverage — the first of a two-stop visit to Monongalia County that would also take him to Mylan Park.
“Now listen, if there’s anybody here that says, ‘Well, they’re going to build this one, but that means they’re taking all the emphasis away from Harmony Grove.’ Don’t think that,” Justice told the crowd gathered in front of the massive bottling plant that is the impetus for both projects.
“I’ll make mistakes, but I’ll never ever tell you something knowingly that I know is not true. I won’t do it and that’s all there is to it. So today I am telling you this is going to give us two accesses.”
Mountaintop Beverage CEO Jeff Sokal has heard the questions, too.
“People have said, ‘This is too much for one company.’ It’s not one company … This is how economic development happens in other states. It’s really just happening a little bit after the fact here for this industrial park. There’s 100 acres of property to be developed within the industrial park. These sites will be extremely valuable,” he said. “For us, what a cool thing to be a part of and be sort of the spark that lit the flame for all of us.”
Glenn Adrian co-owns the industrial park as part of Enrout Properties.
“We’re already in conversations actually with a few companies as we’re here today. They’re all excited about the fact that we’re going to have new access,” Adrian said.
Justice reiterated the state’s plan to begin building the new bridge in the spring.
While Justice’s sidekick, Babydog, took a siesta out of the afternoon sun during the Mountaintop stop, she joined him at the Hazel and J.W. Ruby Community Center at Mylan Park to announce a $3.5 million West Virginia Water Development Authority grant.
Mylan Park Foundation President Ron Justice said the money will be used to put turf on all the park’s existing grass fields, add a new field and work to bring additional amenities to draw sports tourism to the park.
“If everything goes right and our quotes continue to come in the way they are, we’re hopeful … that by April this project would be well underway and our teams in this area will be playing on those fields,” Ron Justice said, explaining the finished project is anticipated to generate some $9 million annually for the region.
Thursday’s announcement comes on the heels of $3.75 million provided by the state to help develop the park’s new KOA campground and $3 million provided by the state as part of a large water/sewer project to serve the park and the greater Chaplin Hill area.
Both Justices said everything that’s come and will come to Mylan Park is the work of many, but the result of one man’s vision.
“If you think about the Mylan Park Foundation and what has been done, absolutely someone who we should give a gigantic round of applause is Mark Nessleroad right here. It takes several to step up, but Mark always seems to step up for community and all of us in every, every way,” Gov. Justice said.
Before moving on, the governor hinted there’s more news coming.
“I just got a phone call out there. I don’t take phone calls in the middle of whatever, but Babydog and I have got a secret that just happened,” he said. “Hopefully you’ll see something in the near future that will just blow you away.”