PSD wants agency reps at meetings
As part of its effort to gain approval to hire a new engineering firm to design a wastewater system for the Snowshoe area, the Pocahontas County Public Service District (PSD) board voted to invite representatives from regulatory and funding agencies to all of its meetings.
Having rejected a Thrasher Engineering, Inc. project design, the board now seeks Public Service Commission (PSC) approval of a deal with Wastewater Management, Inc. (WWMI).
In a harshly-worded January 31 memorandum, the Public Service Commission (PSC) staff recommended rejection of a proposed agreement with WWMI, "in its current form," and said the PSD had not coordinated properly with state agencies to develop the agreement.
The board discussed the issue during a special meeting on February 17 at its Linwood offices.
Board chairman Tom Shipley said he met recently with members of the the Canaan Valley PSD board, who planned a sewage treatment system for the Tucker County resort area.
"They were quite proud of their project," he said. "They told us they started this in 1997, so, it's been quite a long journey, as has ours. They remarked about how important it was that the regulatory agencies had assigned key individuals to help them through this very challenging process. The agency officials - they may have been going above and beyond their call of duty - but they actually attended every meeting, according to the chairman, for years, to help them in their application processes and their planning and I believe we should do the same."
Shipley read a letter, which he proposed to send to the Department of Environmental Protection; Department of Natural Resources; Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council; Environmental Protection Agency, Region III; and the Pocahontas County Commission.
The letter described the various agencies' close involvement with the Canaan Valley project and requested a meeting with each agency head as soon as possible.
After Shipley read the letter, he asked for comments from the other two board members.
Despite his opposition to hiring WWMI, board member Amon Tracey supported sending the letter and said he was bothered by the apparent prejudice at the state level.
"It appears to me that the people's minds are done made up, and that's not good," he said. "They haven't heard all the stories yet, so, yes, I'll go along with the letter."
The board voted 3-0 to send the letter, with Litsey participating via teleconference from Charleston.
Prior to adjournment, Tracey asked Litsey if he agreed with his previous assertion.
"David, does it appear to you that their mind is probably already made up?" he asked. "Through all of the information that we have gathered, it appears to me, and maybe I'm wrong, but it appears to me -- it's kind of like going into court and you know what's going to happen before you get in there."
"Amon, it appears to me, as we discussed a long time ago, back over in Durbin, that there are a lot of very influential people that want to help their friends and that, at certain levels, they have been able to be very successful," he said. "Our mission is to do the right thing for the people of Pocahontas County and to challenge the abuse of power when it becomes apparent that abuse of power is occurring."
The next regular PSD meeting is scheduled for March 29, 7 p.m., location TBA. The agenda will be posted at pocahontastimes.com when it is received.