Pocahontas PSD rehashes pipeline issue

Durbin, W.Va. – During Tuesday’s Pocahontas Public Service District meeting, board member Amon Tracey suggests that the danger of a planned sewer pipeline from Snowshoe to the bottom of the mountain has been exaggerated and board member David Litsey responds.

“You say ‘if’ a thousand times,” Tracey said. “If the world would come to an end tomorrow, we wouldn’t need a new sewage plant.”

“Well, the difference is – I’ve seen, Amon – you have never lived in your life until the first day back at the university back in 1969, you are told to go and get on a bus and go down and walk down a river bed and look for children in the trees,” Litsey replied. “Students at the university of Virginia and faculty at the university in 1969 did exactly that.”

“Another war story,” Tracey said. ‘I could tell you some war stories, too.”

Litsey favors separate plants for the mountain and valley communities, eliminating the need for a down-mountain pipeline. Tracey has supported a single plant design, first proposed by Thrasher Engineering in 2009. Tracey castigates the board for spending money studying a two-plant alternative.

“My point is – we have done spent $200,000 that don’t help us – not one iota in this world,” he said. “I can’t see where we have benefitted anything from it.”

Board chairman Tom Shipley responds.

“Well, it’s part of the process,” he said. “I certainly – I don’t think that you’re suggesting that this board should not have considered the concerns of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that live and work and play in this area.”

Environmental groups, the Elk Headwaters Watershed Association and the Snowshoe Property Owners Council favored the two-plant system, largely to avoid the sewage pipeline. In August, the West Virginia Public Service Commission ordered the PSD to proceed with a single-plant design.

Ira Maupin reads a letter from Snowshoe resident and engineer Bob Forrest, commending the services of engineer David Rigby.

“M. Rigby has impressed me with the quality of his product and the deliberate way he has in developing his assessments and his recommendations,” he read. “His credentials are impeccable. I note that he advised the PSD he could design a single-site system, that would operate effectively, as well as a two-site system. But, when asked about the risk involved in a single-site system, he gave a reasonable assessment of what they would be.”

Russell Holt says the PSD should have continued with Thrasher’s plan.

“Thrasher Engineering has been right all along about the project,” he said. “They were right about the site. They were right about the cost. We’re back to where we were on 7-12 after more than two years of going over the same thing over and over again.”

Tracey moved to terminate the contract with Rigby’s company, Waste Water Management, Inc., but the motion was not seconded.

The board voted 3-0 to hire Dr. Thomas Pauley of Marshall University to study the project’s potential impact on the endangered Cheat Mountain Salamander, not to exceed $1,500. Rigby said WWMI had communicated with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the issue and expected a response from the agency next week.

In other business, the PSD board:
– approved contracting with surveyor Leon Mallow to survey the proposed plant site on Snowshoe Drive, not to exceed $3,000.
– approved contracting with CPA Spencer and Associates to prepare an annual audit, not to exceed $2,000.
– approved a $1.1 million water operations budget for 2013.
– approved a $50,760 drawdown payment on the B-F-D water project.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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