WESTON, W.Va. – A $500,000 Brownfields grant for revitalization efforts in Lewis county was announced in Weston at the Polk Creek Elementary School on Wednesday. The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) Brownfields grants are supported by Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance environmental justice, revitalize economies and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfields properties.

The Polk Creek Elementary School in Weston

“So a lot of local communities are kind of left with this toxic material, and the companies are long gone,” Adam Ortiz, U.S. EPA, Mid-Atlantic Region Administrator.

Cleaning up abandoned industrial sites allows small communities to redevelop and revitalize. Grant funds assess and test the property for toxic materials, which are removed, and that removal, according to Ortiz, will help smaller communities rebuild by attracting developers with less risk.

“So we’re committed to doing that because we think that West Virginia has done so much in America’s history to power America, and then the communities are left, but EPA is here to help make that these economies get back on their feet,” said Ortiz.

Mayor of Jane Lew, Ruth Straley, has a goal to bring the pride back into her community. She left for 40 years, and when she came back to her hometown, she said she couldn’t believe the state the town was in.

“Just the decay that’s happened, and people not keeping their houses up. When I lived here, it was like Mayberry in the Andy Griffth time, and I don’t understand how over the years it’s decayed to such a point,” said Straley.

Straley said that economic development in her community is much needed. The former Jane Lew Glass Factory is one of the industrial sites being revitalized with these Brownfields grant funds.

The former Jane Lew Glass Factory

The $500,000 grant is only a portion of the $2.5 million that will be used to revitalize areas in Lewis County, and other counties in West Virginia will also benefit from Brownfields grant funds. The remaining $2 million will be used throughout the Southern Coalfields Region, Ohio River Valley Region, and Potomac Highlands Region.