West Virginia Executive Spring 2017 - Page 37

“While the main goal of the first trip was to assess the situ- ation and do some reconditioning work to pave the way for future projects, I think the most important part of us going there was providing the community with hope,” says Gelety. “This town has been given the short end of the stick for years, and many residents expressed deep sadness in the fact that they have been mostly ignored. Just going there and painting the Flying WV symbol on the reconditioned tank residents drive by will be a daily reminder to them that people are listening and we aren’t going to give up on them.” Taking Ownership While there is an immediate need for restoration on the water system and protective fences to prevent further vandalism, the long-term goal for EWB and the DHHR is to establish the com- munity as a nonprofit organization. Before maintenance can be performed on the water system, permission must be granted by the coal company, an oftentimes lengthy process. Establishing the nonprofit will allow residents to collectively become the legal owners of the water system and remove the coal company from the equation. “There will be a level of responsibility that the community will assume if they take ownership, and there are several com- munity members who are eager to assume leadership roles and manage the water system,” says King. “We believe establishing the nonprofit will give the community the best possible chance of achieving and maintaining a clean water supply.” Lobbying for Change On March 31, King traveled to Charleston to advocate on behalf of the community during Protect West Virginia Day at the West Virginia Legislature. “I spoke with a few representatives who were unaware that there are still 13 abandoned water systems in West Virginia, with Prenter’s being the worst,” says King. “Many delegates and senators were truly concerned about the conditions in Prenter. We are hopeful that by getting the word out about the issues and struggles the residents in these communities deal with every day, some agency or company will want to step in and help.” According to Matthew Russell, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major from Virginia Beach, VA, EWB is working hard to bring recognition to the terrible living conditions residents deal with as a direct result of not having a clean water supply. “We went door to door and talked to the residents,” he says. “They are all good people caught in a terrible situation. We have all become really invested in the people there, which is why we plan to go back and continue our work.” Some members of EWB hope to visit Prenter later this year to conduct water testing and further assess the condition of the water system. The team is confident that with a clear plan in place they will be able to bring relief to the community, but they must first raise enough money to send students back to Prenter. “Repairing the water system is just half the battle,” says King. “Spreading the word about this community’s living conditions and acquiring the necessary resources needed to continue the project will be the biggest challenge. However, EWB is committed to provid- ing relief to this community and hopefully others in the future.”  2017 WEST VIRGINIA EXECUTIVE SHARP SHOOTER The Thrasher Group, Inc. would like to congratulate DAVE ARNOLD on an honor well deserved! www.thethrashergroup.com Bridgeport, WV | Charleston, WV | Beckley, WV | Fredericksburg, VA | Oakland, MD | Ca ѽ= 1᥹ѽ-d)]]\]Ya UQ%Y =4$)L@H$8Ȁ(