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Mayor Makes Plea For Water Testing Funds

Reported: Feb. 18, 2014 11:25 PM EST

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) – Charleston’s Mayor Danny Jones is looking to City Council for money to pay for in-home and business water tap testing. The mayor could not get too specific yet on who he's reached out to, but we know it's an Ohio company, which could be contracted. He made his plea before the Finance Committee Tuesday night and said until we restore trust, it'll be a tough sell getting people to come here.

"We'll find the money somewhere," said Jones, who added, we have no choice, but to spend thousands of our own money.

"That 50-thousand dollar figure was spinning around in my mind, but I'm not sure," said Jones, who told the committee, testing the water in businesses and in homes will be expensive, but will go a long way in restoring confidence in Charleston.

"Do you have any idea what it's going to take, beyond someone like you saying that four letter word, safe, because nobody will say it?,” we asked. “I'm gonna let a company come in here and see if they can say it," said Jones, who reached out to an as-yet unnamed Ohio company to do the testing.

He said we need certifiable proof, which the city can post in hotels and on the Convention and Visitors Bureau website, that it's safe to stay in Charleston.

"But I think that we need to reach outside of this community,” said Jones. “If we say that we have another company in West Virginia come here and do this, somebody'd say, well, that's some home cookin' goin' on there! And we're not interested in home cookin' we're interested in repairing our brand."

"Being a newly renovated hotel and investing millions of dollars in our renovation, we want people to know that the city and our hotel is safe," said Jamilah Clark with the Four Points Sheraton.

This weekend the city may get the biggest positive boost yet!

"We're having 550 tour professionals in our city, it's a marketplace they've never been to, Charleston or West Virginia, for that matter," said Alisa Bailey, who is President & CEO of the Convention & Visitors Bureay. "Have they heard about the water crisis?," we asked. "They have!," she said. "And we haven't had any cancellations!"

Plus 30 travel writers are coming here as well, which will really give the city an opportunity to shine.

"We all pulled together,” said Bailey. “They understand, they're happy to be here and we're gonna show 'em a great time!"

Mayor Jones said he hopes to have good news some time Wednesday. Then, he will get more specific about the company, and the what, when and who will be tested. Council has to approve any spending more than 25-thousand dollars.
So if they say yes at the next meeting, testing could begin within two weeks.

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