B-F-D water project on target
The water plant on Back Mountain above Durbin isn't working as hard as it did a couple months ago. A project to reduce leaks in the aging water system has yielded good results and reduced water production at the plant by 60 percent.
Thrasher Engineering, Inc. representatives Randy Watson and Matt Hayes updated the Pocahontas County Public Service District (PSD) on the status of the project at the regular PSD meeting in Durbin on May 31.
The project goal is to fix as many leaks in the water system that project funds of $592,000 will allow. PSD manager Ricky Barkley said several leaks had been repaired, greatly reducing treated water production.
"We've fixed 15 or 16 leaks so far," he said. "We found another big one here the other day - 30,000 gallons a day. Right before the project started, we were making 185,000 gallons a day. Right now, we're down to about 75,000 gallons a day."
Durbin Mayor Donald Peck asked the experts why some lines were being replaced and others not.
Barkley explained that polyethylene lines had been installed in some areas of Durbin in 1980 and that those lines were not a priority for repair. Peck said there was a leak in Durbin that work crews had not examined. Board chairman Tom Shipley said Barkley would investigate the suspected leak.
Watson said a Division of Highways (DOH) requirement to re-pave the roadway to the center line, when just the outer portion of the road would be disturbed, was senseless and had caused work delays along Route 250 in Durbin.
"The State Department of Highways wanted us, if we were going to be cutting the road outside the white line, that they wanted us to cut and mill the road clear to the center, which makes absolutely no sense," he said. "So, we are requesting that we not do that - that we just cut that road from the white line toward the paved area at the Station Restaurant and that area through there and just pave that parking area."
Watson said he was working with DOH superintendent Todd Schoonover to resolve the issue. Watson said Schoonover informed him that a letter to a higher echelon at DOH likely would eliminate the paving requirement and allow more lines to be repaired, rather than spending project funds on paving.
Board member Amon Tracey used a public comment period to accuse board president Tom Shipley of lying under oath during a Public Service Commission (PSC) hearing on April 12.
During the PSC hearing, Tracey alleged that Shipley and board attorney Chris Negley had taken scorecards out of the room for about three minutes after an engineer selection process on December 30. Tracey implied that Shipley and the attorney had changed the scores to give Waste Water Management, Inc. the top score.
The PSC concluded in a May 10 order there was insufficient evidence to prove any wrongdoing.
During the May 31 PSD meeting, Tracey confronted Shipley and said he had a witness to corroborate his claim.
"Look me in the eye and tell me the truth - were they taken out of the room or not?" Tracey asked Shipley.
"Go right ahead, Mr. Tracey," Shipley replied.
"Yes, you know they were taken out of the room and you lied under oath," Tracey continued. "Now, what I want to say to the people - is this the type of leadership you want - a man who lies under oath?"
Shipley refused to respond to Tracey's accusations. After the meeting, Tracey refused to disclose the identity of the witness.
In its May 10 order, the PSC gave the board until June 14 to obtain DEP approval to move ahead with a decentralized design for a Snowshoe-area sewage system. The PSD board met with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) representatives last week to discuss approval for a decentralized system.
Board members said they expected to receive conditional approval from the DEP before the deadline.
"I would just say that we had a very thorough conversation and they seemed agreeable to the ruling by the Public Service Commission and they indicated that they would have a written document for us shortly," Shipley said.
Tracey said he expected the conditions to deal with timeliness.
"What they want us to do is quit dragging and get the hell moving, and that's what they've wanted for months and months" he said.
In other business, the PSD board:
- voted 2-1 to pay a Region IV Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council invoice for $61,556.89. The invoice included a $44,485.71 charge by contractor J.F. Allen Company, Inc. for work on the B-F-D water project.
- approved payment of a $5,633.87 invoice from accountant Michael Griffith. Region IV executive director W.D. Smith told the board that he had examined the invoice and determined it to be accurate.
- voted 2-1 to pay $390 to attorney David Moore for a title opinion on a five-acre land parcel at the Silver Creek sewage plant. Shipley voted nay because there was no board approval for the work.
- voted 2-1 to approve payment of bills for May and prospective bills for June. Tracey voted nay because he opposes payment for legal and technical services in pursuit of hiring Waste Water Management, Inc. as the project engineer for the Snowshoe-area sewage project.
- approved the monthly financial statement, which showed expenditures of $110,080.60 and receipts of $48,558.31 under the sewer account; and expenditures of $9,590.84 and receipts of $2,101.86 under the water account.
The next regular PSD meeting is scheduled for June 28 at 7 p.m. Location to be announced. The agenda will be posted at The Pocahontas Times website as soon as received.