June 3, 2011
CHARLES TOWN - The Jefferson County Commission voted to endorse two grant proposals brought before it by the Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition Thursday morning.
The coalition, formed several years ago, is trying to find ways to deal with water problems on the Blue Ridge Mountain, such as stormwater management and road maintenance issues, said BRWC Chair Ronda Lehman.
"What we are looking at is developing a plan which, in the long run, will make us eligible for further federal funding through different areas," Lehman said. "We want to take advantage of all the (federal) EPA funding that's out there because of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It just so happens that everything we fix on the mountain will have a positive effect on the Chesapeake Bay."
Mountain resident John Maxey, a board member with the BRWC, told the commission that the organization hopes to follow a previous $30,000 planning grant. It allowed the coalition to establish a Common Vision document and an engineering report on the mountain's problems, which the commission helped the BRWC obtain.
"That was a very successful program. ... What we're hoping to do is not let those reports just sit," Maxey said. "We want to take advantage of the recommendations that were made."
The commission also approved allocating county money to provide required matching funds for the two grants the BRWC is applying for, if the grants are awarded to the organization. One grant would need a $10,000 in-kind contribution from the county and the other a $7,500 match from the county.
"I see this as the one way we might be able to at least address two or more of those projects for those individuals that are having to live with steep roads and washouts every time it rains," said Commissioner Dale Manuel during the meeting.
Commissioner Patsy Noland added that this program will be an important step to help address some of the various infrastructure problems on the Blue Ridge Mountain.
If the BRWC receives the grants, it will be able to determine a watershed plan that it will seek to implement within the near future. As the process moves forward, Lehman said Blue Ridge Mountain residents will continue to have input on the direction of the program.
"Our group is about working for the residents on the mountain. ... They feel that they have been sort of abandoned and ignored," Lehman said. "It seems like we don't see a whole lot happen on our side of the river, and we aim to fix that. We want to do what the people want, what they want fixed."