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Knuth: County Should Pitch In

Dave Knuth believes Marshall County should take care of its own – and that includes repairing roads in “deplorable condition.”

Knuth, president of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce, believes the extra money being generated in the county via the natural gas industry should be used to repair roads damaged by large trucks used in that business. He noted the general maintenance of some roads – including sections of W.Va. 2 – has been poor over the years. And the state, he has been told, doesn’t have the money to do all the work that needs done.

Knuth said the county’s commissioners – Brian Schambach, Donald Mason and Robert Miller Jr. – should consider the idea of using county money to help the state Division of Highways make repairs.

“It’s a shame that more of the tax revenues generated through the gas reserves here in Marshall County cannot be put back into the county,” Knuth said. “More of the taxes generated from the gas reserves should be come back to Marshall County for repairs of our roads. … I’m a strong believer in taking care of our own with the idea of contributing something to help the state with our road system.”

However, Schambach said the county simply is not responsible for building or repairing roads.

“With the extra revenue we get, what we’ve done is lower the tax levy during last five of six years,” Schambach said. “The increase in revenue we get would not allow us to build a new road. That’s not something we’re allowed to work. We can’t get with DOH – the county commission has nothing to do with the roads.”

Knuth concedes lately the winter weather has played in a role in the roughness of the roads, adding the DOH has patched potholes during the past three weeks. The Jefferson Avenue Extension, despite patching, still is rough.

“The commission says it’s not allowed to make repairs to county roads, but I personally think, with way industry is here in West Virginia, I think if the county has excess funds it should be available to help the state. I think it’s fair and it’s helping residents of our county,” Knuth said.

Schambach said he is happy to act as a liaison between residents concerned about roads and the gas and oil companies.

Knuth said he had heard from a DOH official in the past that one of the reasons Division 6 has had a hard time keeping up with repairs was a lack of money and a that the district continues to lose workers to the private sector – mainly to the oil and gas industry.

Brent Walker, West Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman, said the DOH loses workers across the state to the private sector all the time.

“It’s a challenge. It’s something we’re faced with every year and not just oil and gas, but the private sector in general,” Walker said. “Of course any time employees can better themselves with other employment they make those decisions.”

As far as the state of the roads are concerned, Walker said this winter was the toughest the roads have had to endure in a long time, leading to numerous potholes.

“It’s so important for (Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox ) that he’s instructed all the main crews that if they’re not battling a storm to declare war on potholes,” Walker said.

Walker said the DOT has had discussions with other counties across the state regarding funding for road repairs.

“We’re always open to discussion with counties in that regard,” Walker said.