State of Tyler County Breakfast Held
There was recently a State of Tyler County Breakfast held at Genesis Healthcare in Sistersville and hosted by the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce. Guest Speakers included Diana Rice of Sistersville General Hospital, Eric Vincent with Tyler County Commission,Kenny Mason with Drilling Appalachian Corporation (DAC). Eric Peters of the Tyler County Development Authority, Jessicah Cross (field representative for Senator Capito), and Senator Charles Clements.
Diana Rice took to the podium to explain to visitors that Sistersville General Hospital is more than a hospital, they are the “center of the community.” Rice feels that members of the community need to applaud what they have as opposed to looking at what they don’t have. Rice explained that SGH will be merging with Wheeling Hospital and there will be no job loss in the process. SGH will also be partnering with Westbrook to help fight addictions in the area by offering telemedicine. Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities. It is also used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations. Rice also mentioned that there is a medical clinic in Middlebourne that Dr. Bantuge will be stationed at.
Commissioner Vincent addressed guests and explained that the oil and gas industry has funded several projects around Tyler County such as internet and routers at the courthouse so that abstractors could access land deeds through the internet as opposed to visiting the courthouse. The oil and gas industry has also contributed to the state of the art 911 center in Middlebourne. Since the beginning of the gas boom in our area the budget had increased from 1 million dollars to 3.5 million dollars. With this increase in budget it has allowed for the hiring of a bailiff and there are some much needed renovations being performed on the courthouse as well. It has also allowed for the purchase of the USDA building to relocated the Sheriff’s Department.
Kenny Mason of DAC informed guests on the amount of production taking place locally. He stated that Hastings was the largest plant east of the Mississippi River but they just finished a plan that was 5 times larger since production has increased so much. Mason stated that DAC operates in north central West Virginia and that most of their employees are locals. In the beginning DAC used outside sources for drilling because of their experience but since then DAC has been training employees to keep jobs local. Mason predicts about 2-3 years of output production and after that much of the construction will come to an end, but the lines will remain permanently. According to Mason, approximately 95 percent of the reserve is still in the ground.
Eric Peters of the Tyler County Development Authority informed guests about the upcoming projects that have been worked on around the county. Peters stated that Tyler County is number 42 in the state in unemployment out of 55 counties. Tyler County also has a poverty rate of 19.8 percent and 53 percent use the workforce programs available, which has gone up. Peters commented, “If you have the skills, the drive, and clean urine, you can be very successful in this county.”
Peters also mentioned that development projects don’t just happen overnight, in fact some projects take years just to plan out. One such project is the proposed Cracker Plant at Dilly’s Bottom, which is not official until the ink dries. Peters also mentioned that broadband is the roadway to economic development and he has sent a letter to the Broadband Enhancement Council to work on broadband extensions for the county.
Senator Clements also spoke about broadband and how he has a family member who works out of their basement and has been very successful. He would like to see locals have the same opportunity. Clements stated that he is having a hard time convincing people in Charleston on just how big the oil and gas boom can be. He is working on a highway development project that will be voted on. The date to vote on the project is October 7, 2017. Clements feels that the road infrastructure must be in place if these expansions are to occur.