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Wirt, Doddridge show population growth in MOV

PARKERSBURG — Doddridge and Wirt are the only two counties in the Mid-Ohio Valley that gained population from 2010-2017, according to the U.S. Census.

And to pin it down even further, according to census.gov/data/datasets/2017/demo/popest/counties-total, only Wirt gained population from 2016 to 2017, going from an estimated 5,770 in 2016 to 5,794 for a growth of 0.4 percent and an increase of 24 residents.

Doddridge was estimated to have dropped from 8,583 to 8,560, a loss of 23 people, or 0.3 percent.

In fact, when one looks west of Interstate 79, only Putnam and Wirt counties show growth from 2016 to 2017, with Wirt growing at 0.4 percent and Putnam at 0.2 percent. Pleasants County’s population from 2016 to 2017 was estimated to have held steady at 7,512.

Wirt County Assessor D. Keith Wilson Jr. said a number of minor things may have caused the increase, “such as the new apartment complex in Elizabeth, Woodyard Green, which had about 20 new units for rent. Or it could have been people are just migrating back toward the larger populations. A lot of people could be headed toward Parkersburg or just moving toward some more country. It’s hard to tell right now.”

Wilson added, however, numbers could grow faster as work begins on the Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline. Wilson said crews are beginning to make appearances in Wirt County and the presence is being noticed.

The 36-inch pipeline project will go from Marshall County to Wayne County, traveling locally through Marshall, Wetzel, Doddridge, Ritchie, Calhoun, Wirt, Roane, Jackson and Putnam counties.

The project is adding 171 miles of natural gas pipeline and is an economic investment of $2 billion, according to transcanada.com/en/operations/natural-gas/mountaineer-xpress-project. It will have a capacity of 2.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

“The traffic has increased noticeably of larger vehicles coming into town,” Wilson said. “The traffic is with the workers coming in to cut the right of way for the pipeline. Roads are being paved, roads are being widened and it’s been happening since November as they work to accommodate vehicles which will be traveling back roads.

“It bears watching,” he said of the increase in traffic coming into Wirt County, “but this could be the start of something big for Wirt County.”

Elsewhere, Wood County continued to lose population, according to the numbers, but still remains the fifth most populous county in West Virginia. Wood County went from a census total in 2010 from 86,957 to 85,104 in estimation in 2017. That is a decrease of 1,853, or 2.1 percent.

Wood County’s estimated total population in 2016 was 85,718 before the drop to 85,104. That’s a drop of 614 people in a year, or a 0.7 percent decrease.

In Ohio, Washington County wasn’t spared as far as numbers go. Its 2010 census population total was 61,778 and dipped to an estimated total of 60,418 in 2017. That’s a loss of 1,360, or a 2.2 percent decrease.

The estimated population in Washington County was 60,535 in 2016 and 60,418 in 2017. That’s a drop of 117 people and a 0.2 percent drop.

However, Washington County moved up a spot among most populous counties in Ohio, going from 42 to 41 as it traded places with Lawrence County.

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