LOGAN, W.Va. — Former Logan Mayor Tom Eposito has been working with the city of Logan for a long time on a series of Federal Emergency Mandate Agency (FEMA) projects to repair extraordinary problems the city was left facing in the aftermath of some truly epic storms in recent years. Esposito talked about these projects as well as the latest challenge — which is coming from a state agency — at Tuesday evenings City Council meeting.
Esposito said the city was hit hard by a storm in 2012 which caused several disasters around the town. Several firms had placed bids on the projects and Streamline Enterprises was the low bidder on 28 of the proposed repairs. However the town is currently held up by waiting for the approved funding to pay for repairs to damaged streets in the city.
The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WV DHSEM) appears to have caused major problems for the town in receiving the promised funding, according to Mayor Serafino Nolletti and other city officials. Originally a major paving project was announced to be done. Now WV DHSEM wants the town to do the project and wait to be reimbursed. Adding insult to injury is the fact that those funds, which were apparently promised to the city, are sitting in a bank collecting interest for WV DHSEM.
“This was different from the original proposal,” Esposito said.
“The bottom fell out in January,” Mayor Nolletti added. “We had every document saying their part (the funding) was there.”
“They changed that yesterday,” Esposito added. “WV DHSEM claims they sent a payment, but it had not… They are all over the board.”
Esposito went into detail about the original proposals and funding and how things seem to have been amended to the dismay of the town. He pointed out that the proposed bids are only good for 60 days and will most likely have to be redone — leading to further delays. He noted that the funds will continue to draw interest during that delay, which the WV DHSEM will get to keep.
“We were supposed to get $290,000,” Mayor Nolletti said.
“This has been going on for four years now,” Fire Chief Scott Beckett said, adding, “Can you imagine what the flood victims in Clendenin will be facing?” Beckett said the WV DHSEM official who met with the town was ‘very disrespectful’ to the city and its officials.
“We have had to fight for every penny we got,” Mayor Nolletti said, adding that only Rep. Evan Jenkins and Shelly Moore Capito had taken time to talk with the town about help. “I hope we get that money. If we do we can start fixing the streets.”
Logan Police Chief E.K. Harper noted that if the project is delayed long enough it will be even further down the road before repairs could take place.
“We might face a situation where, by the time the town gets those funds, the asphalt plants are shut down in the fall,” he explained.
J.D. Charles is a freelance writer and a former reporter for The Logan Banner.