POINT PLEASANT — An infrastructure improvement project for Mason County 12 years in the making was dedicated on Thursday.
The Mason County Public Service District’s sewage upgrades and expansion in the Lakin and Camp Conley areas aren’t just good news for Lakin and Camp Conley, but for the economic development of Mason County and even surrounding counties. This according to those in attendance at Thursday’s ribbon cutting at the wastewater facility just north of Point Pleasant in the Camp Conley area.
Because of the $7.5 million project, the Lakin Correctional Center for Women has been able to expand, allowing it to house an additional 69 inmates and create nine new staff positions. Warden Lori Nohe spoke at the dedication ceremony, saying the prison currently employees around 172 people from not only Mason County but surrounding areas, making the addition of new jobs important to the tri-county area as well. She added, the prison was currently at capacity and the fastest growing segment of the prison population is women. If the need arises, the new wastewater treatment facility will allow the prison to expand even further in the future to accommodate more inmates if needed.
Randy Grinstead of the Mason County PSD, told those gathered at the dedication that the upgrades have resulted in the system being able to process 375,000 gallons a day with the ability to increase that capacity relatively quickly to 700,000 gallons a day if ever needed. He added the new system could be accessed remotely and utilizes the latest technology.
“This was a team effort,” Grinstead said about the project being completed. “I hope the economic benefits will soon be felt.”
In addition to the Lakin area, expanded service and system capacity is also available near the county airport and of course Camp Conley - this means these sites are ripe for that economic development.
Kathy Elliot, with Region II Development Authority, also spoke and helped with getting financing for the project. She said of the $7.5 million price tag, around $6.5 million in financing came from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, $900,000 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as financial assistance from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council.
It should be noted, some of the costs to keep up with all this progress were passed down to PSD customers who saw an increase in their rates.
The emcee of ceremonies for Thursday’s dedication was Mason County Commission President Rick Handley. Along with Handley, Grinstead, Nohe and Elliot, also making remarks were Economic Development Director Charles Humphreys, representatives from U.S. Congressman Nick J. Rahall’s office and U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Dorsel Keefer of the Mason County PSD Board of Directors.
Attending the ribbon cutting were PSD employees and board of directors, Mason County Commissioners, Lakin Correctional Center representatives, personnel from local and state economic development offices, Mid-Atlantic Construction personnel, engineering personnel, local business leaders and many others.