BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. (WDVM) — While so many West Virginia communities are struggling to grow, Morgan County — in the eastern panhandle — has the opposite problem: a throng of new residents, visitors, and business start-ups.

The growth spiked during the pandemic. Homebound Washingtonians looking to move out of the crowded, expensive metropolitan area. Berkeley Springs, the Morgan County seat, has been a convenient, attractive destination. Morgan County Commissioner Sean Forney has been busy building out the water and sewer infrastructure to accommodate all this explosive growth.

“We have Berkeley Springs Water Works which is managed by the Town of Bath, we also have the Warm Springs Public Service District on board to do the preliminary engineering — which that is the beginning steps in the process,” says Forney.

And it’s not just residents. Entrepreneurial ventures like Gat Creek Furniture manufacturing can’t hire fast enough. And that brings new infrastructure demand with it.

“We’re blessed,” says Forney, “with having Gat Creek and they’re doing a very large expansion project hiring a bunch of employees so not only is this project about new business for economic development and planting the seeds for the new business to build here, but it’s also about retention of existing business.”

And, says Commissioner Forney, with Morgan County being on the shores of the Potomac River and all the tourism derived from it, there is an environmental upside to all this waterworks infrastructure revitalization.

“We’re also going to be taking a lagoon system offline, a batch plant, a package plant offline there at Gat Creek, so it does have positive implications for the Chesapeake Bay watershed as well.”

And it’s not just water systems getting an upgrade here. A planned highway bypass, when complete, should greatly help relieve all the traffic congestion.

Commissioner Forney hopes that Governor Jim Justice will pay a call to the county before the end of the summer so that he can see this growth first-hand.”

And Commissioner Forney says he is hopeful, with all these ambitious water projects on the drawing board pulling down matching funds, that they can be completed without a rate increase to customers