Dedication of Summersville Reservoir

Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail
September 4, 1966

'Race With Disaster' Cited By Johnson at Dam Ceremony
By Thomas F. Stafford

SUMMERSVILLE - President Johnson helped push another plug into the flood prone Ohio River basin Saturday with the ominous warning that "the supply of usable water is diminishing" at an alarming rate.

"It should be made clear that we are in a race with disaster," Johnson said. "Either the world's water needs will be met, or the inevitable result will be mass starvation, mass epidemics and mass poverty greater than anything we know today."

The President and Mrs. Johnson were honored guests at the dedication of the $46-million Summersville dam and reservoir, a facility which holds enough water to supply 300 gallons to every man, woman and child in the United States.

Johnson spoke from a prepared text, Mrs. Johnson extemporaneously at a dedicatory site approximately a mile from where three former presidents fought as soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War. They were McKinley, Garfield and Hayes.

A heavy shroud of fog threatened to cancel the President's plans for attending the ceremony, but it burned off about 10 a.m., and by the time he arrived a few minutes after 11, an estimated 15,000 cheering spectators were on hand to greet him.

DESCRIBING the water shortage which threatens life and property around the world, he said:

"If our water needs are great today * * * imagine the situation at the end of the century, when the population will have doubled. Our water needs by the year 2000 will not be met merely by doubling the water resources of today. They must be expanded several times over."

The entire West Virginia delegation in Congress was on hand for the ceremony as was every living governor except Homer A. Holt. And about every congressman, Johnson had something to say, including the lone Republican, Rep. Arch A. Moore.

With a wry smile, he said of Moore, "We're still trying to convert him to the Democratic party, and I'll give you a report on that later."

He directed his most generous praise at Sen. Jennings Randolph, who is running for re-election.

"Sen. Randolph is one of the most valuable and effective men in Congress," he said. ["]He is more than a spokesman for West Virginia. He is a national leader in the field of public works."

Johnson went down the list of congressman in West Virginia, singling out Rep. John M. Slack Jr., in whose district the dam and reservoir were built, for special comment. "He understands your problems and this part of West Virginia," Johnson said.

In the President's party, which flew by helicopter from Charleston to the dam site, were Gov. and Mrs. Smith and Gov. Charles Terry of Delaware. The Johnsons were here only about a half hour, returning to Charleston to fly to another celebration in Dallastown, Pa.

Johnson said that working through the United Nations America has joined with 100 other nations to "further man's knowledge of water and its relationship to his environment." He labeled the project a Water Peace Program.

A PLAN OF ACTION, completed only last week, has been developed which calls for the following:

- An International Conference on Water for Peace in Washington next May 23-31. - A continuing effort to find cheaper and better ways of converting sea and brackish water into water that can be used for human consumption and raising crops. - A joint assault on water resources development through the establishment of regional planning centers. - The training of water experts in the United States for service in countries requesting American help. - An extension of basinwide flood control and water conservation to parts of the world not now engaged in such activities. - A worldwide crusade against water pollution in all its forms.

"The race for water will not be an easy one," Johnson said. "It will require the best we have. It will require a spirit of cooperation among nations unknown in the history of man."

He concluded:

"There is no acceptable alternative. For unless the race is won, all that we have been seeking to provide for the growing nations * * * will be worn away by the arid winds of drought. A genuine peace cannot be founded in a desert, or among crowded nations starved for this elemental - yes, this divine - gift."

The trip by the President and Mrs. Johnson to dedicate the 390-foot-high rockfill dam was his third visit to West Virginia since taking office and her second.

From touchdown at Charleston's Kanawha Airport until departure from the same runway, two hours and 11 minutes elapsed.

A Marine Corps helicopter was used to ferry the party from Charleston to Summersville, 40 air miles away, and a 130-man contingent of National Guardsmen assisted a platoon of state policemen in directing traffic and keeping the crowd in check here. The National Guard also provided a color guard.

The Summersville installation is the largest of a trio of flood control and water conservation facilities on the main tributaries of the Kanawha River. The others are Bluestone Dam on the New River and Sutton Dam on the Elk.

The President called the Summersville dam a key part of the flood control system in the Ohio and Mississippi river basins and estimated it would prevent "flood damages averaging nearly $3 million a year."

SEN. RANDOLPH introduced Johnson here a "good and great President who works for us with unexcelled leadership."

Johnson injected a bit of levity into the otherwise solemn affair in replying, "I wish my mother and father could have been here to hear that generous introduction. My father would have enjoyed it and my mother would have believed it."

He goofed only once, and in this Gauley River country it went unnoticed. He pronounced Kanawha "Can-a-was."

Mrs. Johnson, wearing a refreshing two-piece dress in white and yellow, spoke briefly, saying, "this is a very thrilling and hopeful moment."

She called it both an end and a beginning - the end of a challenging construction project and the beginning of "a lot of pleasant recreation and family trips."

Summersville Mayor William Bryant brought smiles to the President's party in telling the crowd he has a brother who works at the White House as electrician and caretaker of the President's dog.

The Johnsons each received a bouquet of red roses, presented to the President by 10-year-old Pam Neal and to Mrs. Johnson by 11-year-old Dale Bolliger. Both are from Summersville.

Many in the audience carried signs which said "Hello Lady Bird" and "All the way with LBJ," and opposite the speakers platform on a bluff was the following in five-foot letters, "Welcome LBJ."

Several hundred were invited to tents near the speakers platform after the ceremony for a buffet of barbecued chicken, baked beans, escalloped potatoes, garden salad, iced tea and apple pie a la mode.

Gov. Smith, Sen. Randolph and others at the ceremony motored from here to Greenbrier County for a political rally later in the afternoon.

Sen. Byrd did not fly with the President and his party to Summersville. He and Mrs. Byrd drove here Friday night.

get add [sic]

IN A SPEECH later in the day at Dallastown, Pa., which is celebrating its 100th birthday, Johnson said the nation's welfare demands more help for farming and rural communities like Dallastown which has a population of 3,7000.

If the present trend of urban growth continues, Johnson said, by 1965 [sic] as many people will be crowded in the cities as occupied the entire national in 1960.

"Must we export our youths to the city faster than we export our crops and our livestock to the market?

"I believe we can change this trend.

"To begin, we must set a higher goal than parity for farm prices. We want to achieve full parity for rural life in America.

"Today, a rural worker earns less for his day's work than a city worker with similar skills. That is one reason you have a labor shortage here in your own county.

"Today, a high-school or college graduate sees a better future for himself in a major city. That is why too many of your sons and daughters move to Philadelphia or New York.

"The same story is being repeated all over America.

"But it doesn't have to happen."

Johnson said modern industry and modern technology and modern transportation can bring jobs to the countryside rather than people to the cities, and that modern government can help.

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