Logan County Administrator Rocky Adkins discussed many major, multi-million dollar plans that will be ongoing projects in Logan County on Aug. 19. Adkins, who was the special guest speaker for the Lions Club of Logan said that tourism, infrastructure and the military will be the key to the next phase of economic growth and development for the region.
“There is an awful lot that is going on,” Adkins said at the beginning of what turned into a long meeting.
Adkins noted that like other active people in the community he gets upset when he sees comments on social media proclaiming that nothing is happening in Logan County and pointed to road construction, flooding projects, and development of the local airport for use in military training as examples of what goes on every day, year in and year out.
Adkins noted that the stream widening project in the Island Creek area was one example of a project that was announced well over a decade ago, which many people claimed would never happen, but did.
“Then there is new Route 10 to Man. That should be completed by the Spring of 2016,” he said. “That is a 100 million dollar project.”
Adkins said many people both locally, such as the New Route 10 Committee, the Logan County Commission and Sen. Art Kirkendoll had worked on that project for many years along with people on a national level like Congressman Nick Rahall and West Virginia’s senators, in order to get the funding to make the project possible.
Adkins said that at one point when a major project planned elsewhere did not come about, Governor Earl Ray
Tomblin moved funding from that stalled project to the active New Route 10 project.
“That is a construction job three times bigger than any other in this end of the state,” he noted. “But there are many more including a $5 million dollar plan to provide potable water to all of Logan County to places that did not have it, such as parts of Harts Creek. When that is done, we will be number one in potable water in the state.”
Adkins said a major sewer project in the Omar area was another example of the kinds of infrastructure improvements needed to bring people and businesses to Logan County.
“These days people want to be able to hook up to a sewer, not a (septic) treatment package plant,” he explained. All of these projects require matching funds for them, from the county to get funds from the state or the federal government and Logan County has always tried to bring in as much grant money for such projects as it can. We have been pretty successful and remember there are 54 other counties out there vying for this kind of funding.”
Some smaller projects have helped maintain and improve the quality of life in the county, Adkins noted, pointing out that when the town of Man’s water tanks were damaged the town did not have the funding to fix them. So the county stepped in to help out. The county has also provided matching funds for projects in the city of Logan as well as assisting West Logan with a surplus police cruiser when the town’s older police car was totaled by a passing motorist.
Adkins pointed to tourism and the success of the now-famous Hatfield-McCoy Trails as one example of how tourism is bringing in money as West Virginia’s economy has changed over time. He noted there are nine
counties in the Hatfield-McCoy system and that the way it is set up all nine have to be on-line with their own trail systems before any major work can take place on existing projects. Toward that end, Logan County has been working with Hatfield-McCoy on projects to expand Hatfield-McCoy in Logan in a big way.
“We decided we would build things for them and give them to Hatfield-McCoy” Adkins said, noting that when those projects come to completion Logan will have the biggest trail system in HMT.
“We want to get the best,” he said, noting that towns like Gilbert and Matewan and Man saw the benefits from Hatfield-McCoy early on and put their best foot forward from the beginning.
In the beginning there was some skepticism on behalf of members of the city council at that time, and only later after Matewan, Man and Gilbert saw an economic revival did the council get on board fully with HMT noted one member at the meeting.
Adkins said that with trail connectors and access to hotels in Logan the best is yet to come for many trail riders who come to Logan to ride HMT.
“Mapping and work on land use agreements is ongoing right now,” Adkins said. “One potential investor is looking at a $12 million dollar project. And remember- these and other projects are all ongoing at the same time.”
Adkins said that sometimes the people who are working on such projects are the worst in the world at getting the message out about what really is going on.
“Tourism and the military are going to be a major part of economic growth and development in our near future,” he said, explaining that a few years ago the US Air Force National Guard had looked at Logan as a place to do night landing training. From that successful project a whole host of plans are coming forward that will bring military personnel from all over the USA and elsewhere to Logan for a variety of aviation training.
“General Tackett used to be a surface miner, and he had an idea about using some of the local post-mined property to create a certified zone for runways,” Adkins explained, noting that not only was some of the topography ideal to recreate battlefield landing conditions in Afghanistan, that the ground itself was twice as strong as it needed to be to support incredibly large military cargo planes.
Military aviators have been getting their needed certifications in Logan County and there are plans to offer more types of training so that America’s defenders can come to Logan and undertake several different types of training all at one place.
“In effect, we could provide a one-stop shopping for their needs, so they do not have to fly folks to Oklahoma for one type of training and Indiana for the next type of training and Alabama for the next. This would save them in both time and money.”
Military reps will be coming to Logan in September to work on a partnership with the Air Guard to create a specialized training facility.
“Everybody from the Royal British Air Force to the US Navy Seals have been doing training and maneuvers in Logan County and what we have seen to date is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “But the word is getting out. The media will be present on Sept. 3 to see a display and get further details about plans.
One project called “Ridge Runners” will help military personnel learn better how to interact with local communities for when they go overseas and have to interact with the general population there.
“They had been doing this program in Lewisburg,” Adkins said. “We feel these projects will be a major economic boost. There will be job creation from some of this and permanent jobs coming out of it.”