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The approximately 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is designed to make our region energy sure by connecting us to an abundant supply of affordable, cleaner-burning natural gas.

Pipeline delays hurt Randolph County community Center

Pipeline delays hurt Randolph County community Center
VALLEY HEAD, W.Va. -- Melissa Wilfong wasn’t sure what to think when the Atlantic Coast Pipeline came to the small Randolph County town of Valley Head, bringing dozens of pipeline workers with it.

But Wilfong, who is president of the Valley Head Community Center, said the pipeline turned out to be a “godsend’ to the town.

When the pipeline first came to Randolph County, Melissa decided to hold a community dinner for the pipeliners. Soon, the workers were coming to the community center for regular dinners. At Christmas, pipeline workers bought gifts for local underprivileged children. They donated money to make repairs and upgrades to the facility.

That is, until the courts stopped work on the project in December 2018.

We talked with Melissa about how the pipeline affected Valley Head and her community center.

Q: If you were to describe this community or this area to me, what would you say about it?

A: It used to be a thriving community. In the past couple of years, we’ve lost our store, we’ve lost our school. And we pretty much have nothing but a post office at this point.

I would say most of the families in the community are low income. People won’t relocate here because there’s not a lot to do. There’s not a lot of opportunities here.

Q: When you heard that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was coming to town, what did you think?

A: At first I was like, “Oh no, we have a bunch of outsiders moving into our area, what’s going to happen? Are they going to come in expecting things we don’t have?”

It’s been a godsend. They’ve done so much for our community. They’ve done so much for our children, families. It’s not even about the monetary things that they’ve done for us. It’s the friendships that we’ve made with the people. They’ve had a tremendous impact on this community center.

Q: So the project’s been delayed, I’m sure you know. How has that impacted you?

A: We’re back to square one again. We’re back to doing the fundraisers. We’re back to hoping that at some point, you have enough money to pay the electric bill, pay the water bill, pay the gas bill, and, you know, do the upkeep that you need to do.

I don’t understand what the problem is. I think the pipeline is doing a tremendous job of putting things back like they need to be. I don’t see that they’ve torn anything up here. And I just think it needs to go on. Because it’s not only hurting us as a community center, but it’s hurting the people who live here that have taken jobs, than now don’t have one.

The ACP needs to get started again. The project needs to get started again. People need to keep their jobs. And things just need to keep progressing as they were.


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