MATOAKA, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin encouraged residents of the Mercer County town of Matoaka Tuesday to get the debris from a four-building fire removed soon.
“The most important thing I told them is to get it cleaned up as quickly as possible,” Manchin told MetroNews after touring the site of last Friday’s fire. “Because if not, it’s an eyesore and people lose enthusiasm, they lose confidence that anything will be done.”
The blaze, which investigators have said was intentionally set, ripped through the downtown area of the small town. Sen. Manchin said each building was privately owned. He said if those owners agree to turn the properties over to a public entity, like a development authority, federal funds to redevelop the area could be available.
“It’s much easier for us to help using federal funds if it’s owned by public and not by private, so we’re going that route first,” Manchin said.
The senator added he’s hopeful the state’s Mainstreet program can get involved with the redevelopment.