The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

May 22, 2013

Commission hears updates on projects

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

— Despite increasingly scarce funding sources, 14 new sewer and water projects totaling nearly $43 million are in the works in Fayette County, with three more in the hopper.

But at least one, a water service extension to South Miller Ridge, Hawver Road and Fox Cemetery in New Haven, is being held up by litigation with West Virginia-American Water in a case before the Public Service Commission. The water company hasn’t agreed to partner for the operation and maintenance of the project, and without that commitment, the project has hit a funding roadblock.

A temporary mediation agreement in the case last year allowed another New Haven extension in the Spy Rock/Edmond area to proceed.

Representatives from the Region 4 Planning and Development Council have worked to leverage millions in funding for sewer and water projects in the county, and on Friday they gave the county commission an update on all those projects.

The collection and treatment systems at Arbuckle Public Service District have major problems, especially during heavy rain events when the system overflows and pollutes Arbuckle Creek and the New River. The PSD is operating under a consent order from the Public Service Commission.

But a recently completed engineer’s report has provided an in-depth account of what needs to be done to remedy those problems. Manholes that need work have been identified, as have property owners who have breaks in their lines and roof drains running into the system.

“It looks as if Arbuckle has turned a corner, at least in terms of management,” said Smith. “They need to continue going in this direction. There are some big hills yet to climb and it’s easy to get discouraged, but they’ve stuck with it.”

The PSD has an application into the Infrastructure Jobs Development Council (IJDC) for funding for its project. The council may bring up the possibility of consolidating with a nearby wastewater treatment plant serving Oak Hill during review of the application, Smith said.

Other updates included:

n Some, but not all, funding for a $3 million “green” wastewater management system serving 99 people in Winona has been secured. Officials are hoping to receive forgivable loans from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The county itself contributed $125,000 for the project, an unusually large amount.

n A $1.1 million water service extension to Spy Rock/Edmond Road/Flanagan Mountain for 14 customers is expected to go out to bid this summer.

n A $900,000 line extension to 48 customers in the Horse Creek/Town Creek area of Pax is still in the running for a Small Cities Block Grant, just as it has been for several years already. Smith encourages Pax to do everything it can to generate legislative support for the project and let the governor’s office know it’s important.

n Construction on a $14 million sewer upgrade project in Oak Hill is expected in the summer of 2014.

n The Page-Kincaid PSD will see over $4 million in projects, including a wastewater extension, a contamination and lead study and development of an additional raw water source.

n An upgraded wastewater plant for Meadow Bridge is nearly complete, and a water extension at Danese PSD is fully complete.

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Commissioners are pleased that it’s looking like the county’s new 911 Center will come in at or under budget. They set aside $3.5 million for the project, of which $114,864 remains. A few more costs are outstanding, which total about $70,000.

Much of this is thanks to a $425,000 state grant that paid for a 300-foot tower for the facility, which was much more robust than the originally planned instrument.

There is some dispute about when the building’s warranty should begin. The architect/engineer for the project, Dan Snead, believes it started on the date of substantial completion on July 31, 2012. But the certificate of substantial completion was not signed by county personnel until the end of December, so county officials say the clock starts ticking then.

Several problems with the building, including HVAC issues that have since been corrected, made it difficult to occupy the building before that time, said commissioner Denise Scalph.

The commission tabled the matter and went into executive session with Prosecuting Attorney Carl Harris to discuss.

The Office of Emergency Services plans to move to the new building, located at Wolf Creek Park, during the third week in June. Emergency calls will be forwarded to Raleigh County for a minimal window of an hour or two on one day that week during the switchover.

Charles and Jane Hardy addressed the commission about using a space in the basement of the Memorial Building to run an amateur radio system that would serve as Fayette County’s backup during emergencies. They will meet with other emergency personnel to discuss the matter.

The county commission has sent a letter of support to Dr. James Phares, West Virginia state superintendent of schools, in support of transferring the former Nuttall Middle School to the Syner Foundation. The commission recognizes the group’s commitment to the local community and believes the school can continue to serve its neighboring residents, the letter states.

Appointments to the Fayette County Board of Health were tabled.

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