Pocahontas PSD Seeks Technical Expertise From WV Environmental Training Center
Durbin, WV – The Pocahontas County Public Service District board is reaching out to the West Virginia Environmental Training Center for technical expertise in dealing with sewer issues at Snowshoe. Board member Tom Shipley raised the issue at the beginning of the board’s regular meeting in Durbin Tuesday night. Shipley explains why he contacted Richard Weigand, Director of the training center based at Cedar Lakes, near Ripley, WV.
“His agency is experienced in working with the [West Virginia] Dept of Environmental Protection on compliance issues” says Shipley. “He can help the PSD resolve compliance issues. It’s my opinion that engaging Mr. Weigand would be to our advantage as the DEP considers the issue of the consent decree.”
Shipley says sewer manager Lloyd Coleman and assistant manager Heidi Hickson are already familiar with Weigand and his work. Best of all, the technical advice is free. PSD Attorney Tom Michael says this would fall under the purview of Coleman’s job duties, so no board action is needed for Coleman to proceed.
With that settled, the meeting next moved into the public comment period. Area resident and Thrasher Engineering plan supporter Russell Holt was the first to speak. He says the West Virginia Public Service Commission ruled in March 2003 that the area needs a regional sewer system that will serve the entire Snowshoe – Slatyfork area. He says the alternative proposal put forth by engineer David Rigby will not achieve that goal.
“The Rigby plan now proposed is the antithesis of that solution and is a plan built upon unconstitutional discrimination, lies and deception” says Holt. “This plan is designed to fail, as all other plans and litigation subsequently proposed have failed.”
Mike Olsen, President of the Snowshoe Property Owners Council or SPOC, says the PSD isn’t listening carefully to the concerns of SPOC members, who make up roughly half of the rate payers affected by the regional plant proposal. He also says the size of the plant is based on over-exaggerated expectations of growth in the Snowshoe area.
“The sewer operation based on all these wonderful projections of growth and that all this added capacity was necessary – the numbers and demographics all tell you that when you start to run these numbers 10 years from now you’re not going to see a lot more than what you see at the moment” says Olsen.
Snowshoe CEO Bill Rock says he’s worried about the about the future of the PSD.
“I have serious concerns about the future of this PSD” says Rock. “With [PSD attorney] Mr. Michaels resigning and the personal attacks on the character of the consultants and board members, I’m not sure you guys are going to be able to accomplish anything, going forward.”
“I take particular exception to [those who] say that Snowshoe hasn’t acted in homeowner interest, when in fact, had we run it like a true utility, rates would have been higher much sooner. In fact [Snowshoe] was subsidizing the utility to the benefit of the homeowners for many, many years.”
Tolly Peuleche asked the board members to consider restructuring their meetings concerning public comment.
“The way you’re structuring the meetings now is to give us a chance to comment before you’ve done anything” says Peuleche. “I don’t think you want to hear what we have to say after you’ve done something, because of that structure. I hope I’m wrong in that.”
PSD Chairman Mark Smith says he agreeable to addressing questions submitted to the board in advance. He asks that those questions be sent to the PSD email address at email@example.com.
This is the first of two stories – the second will air on Thursday, July 29th.