PRINCETON — Taking steps toward eliminating dilapidated buildings, increasing access to public water and sewer treatment, and increasing opportunities for recreation are among the goals that the Mercer County Commission has for the new year.
Creating an ordinance that will help the commission remove dilapidated and abandoned structures across the county will be one of the county’s priorities in 2020, County Commission President Gene Buckner said.
“I don’t know what the count is, but it’s quite high,” Buckner said about the number of structures that need to be demolished.
Commissioner Greg Puckett said the county hopes to work Senator Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, who is working on a dilapidated structures bill.
“Basically what it would do is give funding to counties to deal with dilapidated structures, and this would work in tandem hopefully with a dilapidated structures ordinance to hold people accountable,” Puckett said. “It would do a lot of clean up our county.”
The county has more work to do on the proposed ordinance before it’s ready for the public’s consideration.
“I think that’s going to be a big asset to the county also,” Buckner stated.
Locally, renovations will continue at the Mercer County Courthouse where a new entrance ramp will make it more compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Buckner said another plan is to move records now being kept in the courthouse’s old jail and store them in the basement.
New quarters for the Mercer County Day Report Center and Home Confinement offices have been found near the courthouse, Buckner said. The current plan is to move the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department to the Day Report Center’s location on South Walker Street, giving the department more room.
Other efforts will be aimed getting more water and sewer infrastructure to the county’s residents.
“We want to continue working with our Mercer County Public Service District in order to get public water to citizens of the Camp Creek and Flat Top areas,” Commissioner Bill Archer said. “And we also have a plan that’s already in the works to try getting wastewater treatment facilities that would connect customers in Matoaka and Lashmeet all the way through Spanishburg and other communities.”
Many communities have been waiting a long time for water infrastructures to reach them.
“I got a letter a couple of days ago from someone in Kegley who said that commissioners had promised 20 years ago that we were going to get wastewater treatment into Kegley 10 years ago. It’s long overdue,” Archer said.
Improving local trails will be another ongoing project. A non-motorized trail system including kayaking, hiking and bicycling would benefit the county’s residents and help attract new tourists, Archer said.
“We’re all working hard to make some positive difference and jobs,” he stated.
Increasing the number of recreational venues includes making investments at Glenwood Park, Puckett added.
“We’ve been talking about doing a stage and putting some funding back into the park to really make it a destination where we can do concerts and other special events,” Puckett stated. “I think back in the day we used to do bluegrass festivals there, and if we could do something similar to that it would be great. We’ve worked a lot with (Executive Director) Jamie Null at the Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau to increase our tourism opportunities there.”
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