The Vinton County Commissioners, on behalf of the Jackson County Water Company (JCWC), have applied for a $5.8 million grant to expand water services in rural areas of western Vinton County, according to Vinton County Development Director Terri Fetherolf.

Fetherolf said if the application is approved, the money would come from the Ohio Department of Development through House Bill 168, which is titled as the Water and Wastewater Funding Bill. Ohio has received $250 million for water projects, which is money made available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Many requests are being made, so the funding is competitive.

JCWC General Manager Larry Foster told The Telegram there are no guarantees that the funding will be secured. If the project is funded, however, it will involve serving 52 homes, as well as replacing and increasing the size of some existing lines to allow for more pressure and installing a new water tank. This is Vinton County’s top-ranked project and JCWC would be the water-service provider.

Foster stated the new lines would pick up the remaining unserved houses in that area and go out Pretty Run Road in both directions and down Goose Creek, where they would connect to JCWC’s existing system, making a loop there. As always, Foster is taking a conservative approach, and does not want residents to get their hopes up.

“This is a very expensive project and even if it is funded, we will have some preliminary work to do before any pipe can be laid,” Foster stated. “We are, as we have pointed out before, dealing with high elevations.”

The Vinton County Commissioners, Development Office, Health Department, and Vinton County Local Schools have all submitted reports about the problem with low water tables in the proposed service area, the effects on children, finances, and other issues. They are hoping this unfavorable situation will help secure funding due to the need for public water.

It is the view of most public officials that the public water lines are the only way to serve people in the area. The issue was also brought to the attention of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine when he had an event at the Vinton County Health Department. The issue also has the attention of Ohio Governor’s Office of Appalachia Director John Carey, who recently joined Appalachian Regional Commission Co-Chair Gayle Manchin when she toured the area.

Fetherolf stated the project could also set the stage for future expansion projects, though no specific locations were mentioned.

Vinton County officials are also in the process of developing a Master Water Plan Map to identify where water is needed and what companies can get to them fastest, as well as cost-per-mile projections.

Fetherolf says she hopes the grant request will be approved, and like Foster, does not want people to get their hopes up too high. Overall, she is glad this opportunity has come along, and she is hoping for the best.