BLUEFIELD, W.Va (WOAY) – The Mercer County Regional Airport Development and Diversification Initiative has been in the works for several years trying to come up with the almost $4.5 million needed to get public water access for the airport and the surrounding community. On Tuesday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice presented the airport with a $250,000 grant to help pay for it.
The Mercer County Airport has been using well water since it opened in the 1950s.
“We currently have two wells at the airport. Both wells produce very little water,” Mercer County Airport Director Clint Ransom. “If you run the water for about 30 minutes, the well will be dry for 24 hours.”
Governor Jim Justice came to recommend a $250,000 transfer from the Appalachian Regional Commission to the project. After applying for several different grants, this was the remaining amount of money needed to start the project.
“It’s 2019. Should we not have water to our people or sewage to our people? Well of course we should,” Justice said. “But the reality is just this: We didn’t have any money. We didn’t have any money to do anything.”
Justice credited surplus and an increase in investments in West Virginia as the reasoning behind why the state can now come up with the money. The water pipe that will be put in will also service other parts of the county.
“Also a part of this project is extending the water up Route 52 towards Bluefield to get to the top of the mountain there,” Community Development Director Jeffery A. Johnson said. “There’s buildings and businesses there that will also benefit from the water and that higher elevation will get the water pressure to here and everywhere in the project.”
Those involved with the project say the construction contracts will need to be signed and it won’t be long before construction begins.