The Braxton Democrat, Town Meeting

Informational Meeting Shines Light on County Problems

A meeting hosted by the Braxton County Commission, Wednesday July 19 shed some light on problem areas of the county. Lisa Godwin organized the meeting. She introduced Nancy Gall, Community Liaison for the United States Department of Agriculture who facilitated the meeting. She in turn introduced John King of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and Kayleigh Kyle, Supervisory Community Planner for USDA RD.
The meeting was also an opportunity for Gall and Kyle to speak with community members directly about any obstacles they are facing to current projects to see if they could help.
King spoke about the DEP grant program to cleanup dilapidated and abandoned buildings. He explained that the agency had a $30 million pool of funding that was available statewide to help areas such as Braxton. The funding comes as a result of Senate Bill 368 passed by the legislature in 2021. The current program is supported by the WVDEP’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP) and funded from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund.
He stated that there was no match, and that Braxton County was ahead of many counties in the state in that they had identified structures that needed to be torn down.
Kyle leads the Rural Partners Network in West Virginia for USDA Rural Development. The Pioneer Community Network is one of two RPN community networks in West Virginia and it includes Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer, Nicholas, Roane, Webster, and Wirt counties. She stated that her agency was available to help navigate the paperwork and red tape associated with state and federal programs.
The audience ask questions following the representatives’ presentations.
Commission President Lisa Godwin concluded the meeting, which USDA representatives stated had the best attendance of any held in the state to date, by outlining funding that had been approved for Braxton County. They include $2,575,000 for Flatwoods Canoe Run PSD from the Appalachian Regional Commission for expanding sewer service to Holly Gray Park; Congressional Earmarks (contingent on the passage of the current federal budget): Braxton County Sheriff’s Department, $211.000 for communications, equipment; $1,882,000 for the upgrade of the county’s emergency services communications equipment; $1,000,000 for Mountaineer Food Bank’s expansion project; $1.5 million for a new dining hall at Holly Gray Park. The total will equal $7,168,000 in local economic development.
Numerous attendees were heard commenting on how informative the meeting was as they departed the Braxton County Technology Building where the meeting was held.