KERMIT - Construction work is underway on the Aquaponics facility which will be located at Kermit. The recent hot, dry summer weather has been good as the project moves forward.

The facility is located on the old Burning Creek Mine property inside the Kermit City limits.

Leasha Johnson, executive director for the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, said, "With delivery of the greenhouse expected in early July, we're getting more and more excited about the completion of the Aquaponics project. Barring any unforeseen delays, we expect the facility to be completed by late August or early September."

"Sprouting Farms, our operating partner, is starting to put together job descriptions. Together with Sprouting Farms, we've engaged a marketing consultant to create a brand identity, logo and core messaging for the facility in order to expand the market that it will serve and to establish the facility's role in the community. We've gotten excellent cooperation and assistance from Mayor (Charles) Sparks and the Town of Kermit, and we're looking forward to the start of an innovative economic development and agriculture project in their community," Johnson added.

The multi-million-dollar project is to be developed on abandoned mine land just in northern Mingo County. When completed it is initially projected to employ about 12 people. The project was originally announced in 2016. It is part of the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program and the W.Va. DEP.

When operational, the Aquaponics facility and training center will provide 150 kilowatts of solar power, provide healthy and fresh food for local and regional consumers, and represent a model that can be implemented in other coalfield communities, according to Johnson.

"This is a real plus for our town. Any time you can get something this big in and around your community it's great," said Kermit Mayor Charles Sparks. "The weather is finally cooperating and they are getting a lot done.""I'm so thankful we were picked for this project. Now if I can just get more businesses in town it will be great. I am working to get a good restaurant in town. It's a slow process and takes time. But I am proud of our little town. I have great people that work hard for me," Sparks said.

The MCRA awarded Persinger and Associates of Charleston, West Virginia. The bid for the design and construction of the Aquaponics project for $1,728,000. Courtney Persinger, a Williamson native, operates the Charleston company which specializes in commercial construction and renovation.

Sprouting Farms, which is headquartered in Talcott, West Virginia, reached an agreement with the MCRA to manage the facility.

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