Busy week for PSD
The Public Service District held three meetings in the last week in its most recent efforts to build a wastewater treatment facility at Snowshoe. The project has been in the works and in the news for a decade.
Wednesday evening's meeting was held at Jerry Holder's office at Linwood and addressed a December joint staff memorandum issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The board members reviewed the memorandum line-by-line, focusing their attention on the 64 comments.
The board agreed that many of the comments were repeated in the memorandum and the actual number of deficiencies was much lower than 64.
"I know this is tedious, but we've got to do it," said Tom Shipley, PSD board chairman. "Off the cuff, it just makes it look worse. You know, 64 comments, and maybe there aren't 64 after all, there are some redundancies."
The board met again Saturday night at the Linwood Library where Dr. David Rigby, president and founder of Waste Water Management, Inc., answered questions from the public regarding WWMI's project proposal.
"As you know, we've made quite a bit of progress since our last public meeting back in September. If you remember in September, we provided public information that was essentially a status report or a progress report on work we had performed on the decentralized alternatives to the main central system," said Rigby.
Rigby was not discouraged by the DEP memorandum's comments. In fact, he called the criticisms "a good thing."
"We had asked the DEP and PSC to meet with us to discuss these issues prior to us developing the report, and they were not willing to," said Rigby. "In our opinion, our work exceeded the work that had been presented in the past. We realized that this program had been very adversarial; we had hoped for better cooperation. I was not surprised by this, but none of the comments are difficult. Most of them are very benign, like you didn't have a stamp on this or the scale of your drawings need to be bigger. I was not surprised by the number or the nature of the questions."
"I'd like to suggest that in the last few weeks there has been a lot of progress made. It looks like, in my opinion, it's a difficult road but comparatively, we're making progress," said Shipley. "Despite concerns of some folks, the response was pretty positive. The only stern remarks were reminders that we are on a timeline."
Toward the end of Saturday's meeting, PSD board member Amon Tracey asked PSD treasurer and secretary Ricky Barkley for a report on the state of the board's finances.
"About one year ago we had $740,000. We have spent that, plus we spent all the customers' money that comes in, which is not quite a million dollars. It's all gone, too. Rick would you tell us where we stand?" Tracey asked.
Barkley never got to respond, as board members then engaged in a spat over the agenda.
Board member David Litsey interrupted, "Amon, it's not on the agenda."
"Let him talk," Tracey responded. "What? Are you ashamed of it?"
"I'm not ashamed of it," said Litsey. "We've had this discussion before. We have a meeting coming up on Monday night and there is a disagreement between myself and Mr. Barkley and, in fact, you now. We experienced huge expenses regarding the legal issue."
Litsey objected to discussing the board's finances because it was not on the evening's agenda.
"What agenda? Where is this agenda at?" Tracey questioned.
"It's on the agenda for Monday," said Shipley.
"Tell them what that one's [meeting] about Tom. Monday we're going to try to decide which people to pay to keep the monkey off our back," stated Tracey.
"That's not true," Shipley replied.
The tension about the board's finances flared again only minutes later when the board discussed additional subsurface testing at the various sites.
"Hire them with what? What are we gonna pay 'em with? Chicken feed? We got no money," said Tracey. "You don't want to hear the truth from Rick, David? We don't want to waste people's money, we took an oath to that, and now it's all gone."
According to Litsey substantial funds will be coming in from commercial and residential ratepayers in the upcoming weeks. Shipley said he feels that despite the disagreement over finances, the board has been making the right decisions.
The board met again Monday to discuss their finances and additional subsurface testing.
In reference to that meeting, Shipley said the board talked about the fact that they represent the community's views and have different opinions, but at the end of the conversation he encouraged the District to think about their mission and to use the democratic process and come up with a solution. He said it was actually a very short discussion and quite frank. At the end of it they agreed to move forward and work together to make their decision.
"I felt really good about it," said Shipley. "The other thing we did was meet with landowners to discuss the possibility of purchasing land for our sewer treatment plant, those discussions went really well."
Subsurface testing will take place this week at the various sites and a report will be submitted to the PSD. The board will then vote on which site will be selected for the wastewater treatment facility.
"There is very clearly a light at the end of the tunnel," said board member David Litsey.