CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Roads, water and sewer systems must be built and upgraded to boost economic development in Fayette and Kanawha counties, said Democratic candidates in the new 32nd and 36th House districts.
The candidates said children in eastern Kanawha County ride their bikes along streets flooded with untreated sewage.
"Right now, there's sewage running in Chelyan. It's horrific," said Mark Hunt, a Democratic incumbent who said he has asked Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to dedicate state contingency funds for water and sewer projects. "We've recognized the problem, and we're fixing it."
Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, said the Loudendale area desperately needs a public sewer system.
"It is nothing short of appalling that in the year 2012 that some areas in the district do not have access to clean water and do not have adequate sewage facilities," said Wells, who has served in the Legislature the past eight years. "It will be my goal to help find funding for these projects."
Charleston lawyer Bob Johns, another candidate in the 36th District, said the Marmet and Lens Creek areas also have sewage issues.
"I'm telling you, it's a major problem," said Johns, who owns properties in eastern Kanawha County. "It's going right into the creek."
Candidates running for seats in the 32nd and 36th House Districts met with Gazette editors last week.
The 32nd District covers Fayette County, part of Raleigh County and about a thousand residents in eastern Kanawha County. The 36th District includes parts of South Hills, Kanawha City, Charleston's West Side and eastern Kanawha County.
Jonathan Walkup, a security guard who's running in the 32nd District, said many homes and businesses in Fayette County don't have access to public water systems.
However, Delegate John Pino, D-Fayette, who's running in the same race, said water service has expanded significantly in Fayette County in recent years. Water and sewer projects have sparked economic development between Oak Hill and Fayetteville, he said.
"To a large part, it's already happening in Fayette County," Pino said.
Pino added that water and sewer improvements also helped persuade the Boy Scouts of America to build a National Scouting and Jamboree Center on 10,600 acres in Fayette County.