STANLEY VALLEY - After years of planning, legal battles and slower-than-expected construction, there is finally treated water flowing into Stanley Valley, although the biggest part of Rogersville's water expansion project lies ahead.
During a ceremony Wednesday morning, Rogersville Water Commission Chairman Ed Pace and Alderman John Johnson opened the water valve in the parking lot of the Stanley Valley Volunteer Fire Department, officially putting an end to phase one of the project.
That leaves two more phases to complete as Rogersville extends a water line along Stanley Valley Road from Highway 11-W about 15 miles to the Virginia state line.
Phase one included the addition of 14 new residential customers as well as the Stanley Valley Market, and a fire hydrant in front of the nearby fire hall.
Phases two and three will add another 450 to 500 homes to the system.
Construction on the first phase became much more difficult and time consuming than expected after workers discovered there was rock in the path of the water line almost the entire route from 11-W to the market. A job that was supposed to take months stretched out to two years.
That's why Rogersville Water Superintendent Jimmy Bible isn't setting a timeline for completion of the other two phases. He's hoping to make it to the Virginia state line within two and a half years.
"We've got our funding in place for phase two and three that takes us on up the valley," Bible said. "The bids have been accepted and approved, all the papers have been forwarded to the contractors, and we should be having a pre-construction conference real soon. I'm not going to give you a (completion) date, but we hope to be working real soon."
The struggle to bring water to Stanley Valley began about six years ago when well water tested positive for E. coli, fecal matter and other contaminants. A couple of years were lost as Rogersville fought a legal battle to obtain the rights to serve Stanley Valley, and the construction delays due to rock have been well-documented.
Hawkins County commissioner and former Stanley Valley firefighter Danny Alvis has been at the forefront of Stanley Valley's struggle to obtain water since the beginning. Aside from bringing clean water to residents, there was a need for a water supply for the fire department, which has pumped water out of a pond or creek to fill its tankers up to this point.
Alvis now works at the Stanley Valley Market. He noted how activities that most people take for granted are just now becoming available in Stanley Valley.
"Everybody in this whole community is happy about this," Alvis said. "We've got water now in this store so I can actually make a pot of coffee without having to carry water in. The only thing we used that well water for was to flush the commode. That's all it was good for.
"Now that the well water is gone, the smell is gone, and now I want all the Stanley Valley residents to have what we have here in this store today."
Alvis noted that by putting a fire hydrant on Stanley Valley Road approximately every mile or so, there's a good chance that local residents' ISO fire insurance rating may go down eventually as well.