Stone Church Residents Express Drilling Concerns

Massive trucks traveling at high rates of speed on a narrow roadway and the noise associated with full-time drilling and fracking operations are just some of the issues Ohio County residents want natural gas companies to address.

“Our lives have changed dramatically because of this. These people need to come here to answer our questions,” said Stone Church Road area resident John Saunders during the Wednesday meeting of the Ohio County Concerned Citizens for a Better Government at the Stone Church Volunteer Fire Department.

“They try to blame their subcontractors. They just say that so they can’t be held responsible,” Saunders added.

Stone Church area resident Terri Riggle-Helt recently started the citizens group in response to concerns about heavy truck traffic directly related to the burgeoning natural gas industry. She said a subcontractor working for a natural gas company recently ran her off the road.

“We have to inform people. Our lives have changed so much outside of the city limits. You can’t fix something if you don’t know it is broken,” she said.

In all, roughly 30 people attended the meeting, including Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler and Delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio.

“We have to endure how rough it is now, but things are going to get better,” Riggle-Helt told those in attendance. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil – you have to stay on these people.”

Riggle-Helt told residents she invited a representative of Chesapeake Energy – the only company with active drilling operations in Ohio, Brooke and Hancock counties – to attend the meeting. She said a Chesapeake representative told her company representatives no longer attend public meetings but would like to meet with some residents during a closed-door session.

Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland acknowledged that the company would not be represented at the meeting – and would have nothing to say about any comments made during the session.

Ohio County Concerned Citizens for a Better Government will meet again at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Stone Church Volunteer Fire Department on Stone Church Road.