RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — For the past 20 years, Jerome Stone said, his family has wanted public water service in their White Oak neighborhood.

Stone said he has written letters for the past five years to state senators and delegates and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

“Everybody that somebody would give us a name, to refer us to, and everything,” he said, describing those he has asked for water.

By the end of May, a public water project, which cost around $3 million, will bring  water from the Cool Ridge/Flat Top Public Service District to White Oak residents for the first time.

Until now, families have relied on cisterns and have even carried water, said Stone.

Raleigh County Commission President David Tolliver, who has spearheaded an effort to bring public water to all parts of Raleigh County over the past twelve years, said on Thursday, May 4, 2023, completion of the White Oak project will be a victory for the neighbors and for Tolliver, personally.

“I’m tickled to death for them people out there,” said Tolliver, who grew up in Wyoming County without running water. “I know how it is, without public water, so I’m just tickled for them people.”

When Tolliver took office in 2010, less than ninety percent of Raleigh County households had public water. Now, only about two percent of residents are without public water — around 65 families along South Sand Branch Road and 28 households along Ellison Ridge — and Tolliver says that number is still too high.

“I’ve got two more to get, Sand Branch and Ellison Ridge and Joe Cooper and then all water systems in Raleigh County, everybody has got public water that we can get it to, So two more,” he said.

Water expansion projects are in progress for both neighborhoods, said Tolliver.

As crews worked on laying water lines Wednesday, May 3, 2023, Stone said he was looking forward to turning on his faucet and having water from a public source.

“It’s very gratitude, and everything, for my family and everybody,” said Stone. “Especially for the elderly people that lives on the road there.

“They’ve been all their life, living here, and having cisterns and creek water and have to carry water and everything else, to see it accomplished,” said Stone. “There’s areas in Raleigh County the people needs city water, and we’re very fortunate to have ours connected, and it’s very gratifying to have it coming to us, finally.”

Stone thanked Raleigh County Commission, Cool Ridge/Flat Top PSD officials and the workers who are currently installing the water lines.