BLUEFIELD — Bluefield is looking ahead on getting ready for the King Coal Highway “bridge to nowhere” project and what it will mean for land the city owns off Airport Road.
City board on Tuesday agreed to a contract with Allegheny Wood Products to timber land the city owns near Kee Dam.
Cline said it will be a “select cut” of timber at least 16 inches in diameter.
“The city owns Kee Dam and the lake itself and 379 acres in that area,” he said. “King Coal Highway is going through there, crossing through adjacent to our property.”
Cline said this is an “excellent time” to do the timbering and realizing some value of the land. The city will receive $21,000 for the timbering operation.
It also fits in with the city’s plan to use its land near the King Coal highway/Rt. 20 intersection for development.
Cline said the land may be used for recreational purposes, but plans have not been finalized.
Work on the King Coal Highway project is on the agenda to get started this year, bringing the so-called “bridge to nowhere” in Bluefield to Airport Road, a 3.8-mile, almost $60 million project.
Traffic from I-77 and Rt. 460 can then reach Rt. 52, the Bluewell and Bramwell areas, and McDowell County without going through Bluefield.
Dane Rideout, city manager, has previously said the city wants to take advantage of the traffic and people passing through that intersection on Rt. 20, where all King Coal Highway traffic will exit, at least for the foreseeable future.
King Coal Highway is part of an interstate system (I-73) that, when finished, will run from Detroit, Mich., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., bringing more people through the state each year, and across Mercer County.
In other business Tuesday, the board:
• Gave first reading to a disorderly house ordinance. Cline said the ordinance will allow the city to target houses that present recurring problems for the city because they are used for drug use, prostitution or gambling.
“We can work with the owner to resolve the nuisance,” he said, adding that the ordinance will allow the city to take court action if needed to force the owner to resolve the problem.
“The owner can be charged with a misdemeanor,” he said. “This is a fairly sweeping change, but I think it is going to give us some tools we currently don’t have.”
The owner will be given a change to take care of the situation initially.
“Ultimately, if we can’t reach agreement, we could bring an action in Municipal Court to have the house declared a nuisance and obtain an order of abatement,” Cline said. “There are criminal penalties for failing to comply with an order of abatement.”
The ordinance will become law after the second reading.
• Recognized Bluefield Fire Department Captain Richard Hodge, who has retired after 30 years of service.
Fire Chief Rick Cary, who presented Hodge with a helmet and plaque, described Hodge as “one of the nicest people you will ever meet … He has been a leader and a mentor.”
Cary said Hodge is quick to help anyone in need as well as save people, property and pets from fires.
“You have the biggest heart I ever saw,” he told Hodge. “You will give the shirt off your back.”
Cary told Hodge to “keep your head held high with the all the service you have done. This is what a hero should be.”
• Heard Julie Martin of Rocky Gap thank two Bluefield Fire Department firefighters for recently helping her and her husband “in a frantic time of need.”
Martin said her husband fell ill with a possible heart attack and she left Rocky Gap to take him to the hospital.
“The closer I got (to Bluefield) the worse he got,” she said, and she saw the Bluefield Fire Department substation on Cumberland Road and stopped, frantically knocking on the door, not knowing if anyone was there.
“That night, those two guardian angels (Robbie Stevenson and Brian Carr) were there,” she said. “They got him out of the car, into the fire station and got help from the Bluefield Rescue Squad. It was dire situation.”
Martin told the firefighters that no amount of “thank yous will ever be enough. You will never know the gratitude I have for both of you.”
She said her husband is now doing well.