(01/16/2008)
By Dianne Weaver

Barbara Heery and Lorraine Landicini of Rt. 7 are upset because the Calhoun Commission has declined to apply for a Transportation Enhancement Grant they believe would build a footbridge across Steer Creek.

The women are asking for a grant to build a footbridge near the mouth of Raccoon Run that will allow their children to get to school when a low-water bridge is covered by water.

Heery and Landicini have been on a mission contacting government officials about using taxpayer money to build the structure, frustrated that their children miss school because of high water.

Commissioner Rick Sampson reminded the women they received a copy of a letter from Paul Mattox, Jr., WV Secretary of Transportation, indicating a foot bridge would cost about $300,000 and would require a 20% match from county funds, or $60,000.

Mattox said a vehicle bridge would cost $1 million.

Commission president Bob Weaver said he had talked to the agency that processes such grants and was told they had never funded such a bridge for one or two residents.

Weaver advised the complainants that Calhoun County would not get into the bridge building and ownership business, saying "I made the decision not to apply for the grant."

Heery and Landicini indicated they were willing to pay the match themselves, after which Weaver indicated the footbridge could surely be built with the help of the community and their financial contribution.

"There is no way the county can match $60,000," said Sampson, who last year suggested that the families might reach out to the community for assistance to build a footbridge.

County Clerk Richard Kirby, who had talked with state officials, said the county has used Enhancement Grants for walking trails, but not for private citizens to have access."

"Why waste time if it is not going to happen," Kirby said, stating he felt it was unfair to ask county taxpayers to fund the access project.

Commission president Weaver told the women there is empathy for their plight, "but the county is in no position to get into the bridge building business."


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