Pocahontas PSD Wastes No Time In Getting Started On Sewer Plan

Snowshoe, WV – In late June, the West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection gave the Pocahontas County Public Service District permission to pursue a preliminary engineering report based on a decentralized sewer plant design by Engineer David Rigby. At a work session and meeting near the end of June, the PSD board and Rigby began working to meet the deadline for submission of the plan to the DEP and the West Virginia Public Service Commission, due in October.

Although the DEP still prefers a centralized plant, they agreed to allow the PSD to prepare and submit a decentralized plan, provided the plan does away with the existing package plants, and constitute no more than two separate plants, rather than the three in Rigby’s proposal. The plan must also explain how it will accommodate current and future use, as well as surges and peak flows in heavier use months. Rigby says he’s eager to get the process going.

“As I do will all my projects, this is very inclusive procedure” he says. “Everybody’s stakeholder interest needs to be taken to heart. What the Commission has authorized in condensed terms is a six month study period, of which we’re 45 days in. That doesn’t necessarily mean that after six months we’re automatically in line to go forward with a project.”

With this in mind, Rigby says it may be premature to file a funding application with the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development /Council. There is approximately 7 million dollars in funding left over from the second IJDC loan granted to the PSD, but whether those funds are still available is unclear. Rigby says the IJDC has revamped their whole system which goes into effect on July 12th.

“The new program with the IJDC is completely integrated now and it’s the state of the art in the United States” says Rigby. “This program is completely integrated throughout all the state agencies, and also federal agencies that are operating within the state. They’ve also integrated it into the GIS system; you can say I want to search for sewer projects in Pocahontas County and everything will pop up. And in theory, they’ll even have all of the sewer lines that have been put on the map. Satellite imagery is better than any I’ve ever seen for this region.”

As project administrator, Rigby will be able to log into the new system and keep abreast of changes or other requirements. The PSD board says they will also seek to partner once more with the Region 4 Planning and Development Council to manage the finances of the project.

They discussed engaging the services of CPA Michael Griffith. Sewer manager Lloyd Coleman says he appreciates Griffith’s knowledge in dealing with this kind of project, but warns that Griffith has been somewhat unresponsive when engaged on previous projects. PSD Attorney Chris Negley says he will contact Griffith.

During the regular meeting, Russell Holt, Harvey Galford and Snowshoe CEO Frank DeBerry all spoke against the current plan. DeBerry reminded the PSD board that the site 7 donation from the resort was intended for a centralized plant. He says while he is open to other ideas, the PSD should not assume that they will have access to this site. He directed his second comment to PSD member David Litsey about his possible conflict of interest as a developer on the mountain.

“To Mr. Litsey I would just say I brought the question to you when we spoke one to one before” says DeBerry, “asking why in light of all these accusations would you not simply go to the [state] Ethics Commission and ask for a ruling on whether or not what you own, your position as a developer who is potentially in direct competition with us as Snowshoe, could have a perceived conflict of interest when it comes to determining where a site goes. I’ve come into it with no preconceived notions as to whether or not this is simply you’re doing what’s in interest and there’s a perceived issue, or if there’s a real issue. I’ll tell you after the [work] session today when everything I’ve heard pushes to Silver Creek, Silver Creek, Silver Creek, and when beyond that when the discussion of the Snowshoe plant comes up and the use of West Ridge road and your own chosen engineer David Rigby brings up the idea that there’s no capacity for growth in that solution; that you so easily dismiss that.”

“I think that just even further strengthens the need for you to go to the committee and ask that they at least provide you with an objective ruling on that. I’m actually astounded that a public district would not seek guidance from the Ethics Commission.”

PSD member Amon Tracey, followed up with a question of his own for fellow board member David Litsey.

“Of all the things I’ve been hearing about conflict of interest, do you feel that your vote is valid?” asks Tracey. “Absolutely” says Litsey.

Tracey asked Board Chairman Tom Shipley the same question. Shipley didn’t answer, only asked if anyone had any other questions. PSD Attorney Chris Negley offered his response to the question.

“All I know is that he was lawfully appointed to that position and nobody’s told him he can’t serve in that position” says Negley.

In other business, Randy Watson of Thrasher Engineering gave the board an update on the Durbin Water project. Watson says the project is on track to come in around $33,000.00 under budget. He says there is also around $150,000.00 in contingency funding that can be used for other items. After conferring with Rigby, Watson gave a list of possible projects to spend that money on – $20,000.00 for fencing around the Bartow water tank and the water plant, $40,000.00 to paint the Bartow tank, $15,000.00 for an emergency generator for the water plant, $40,000.00 for new remote read meters and software, and $10,000.00 for miscellaneous equipment for the water treatment plant.

The board also approved the following:

Changing the employment status of Operator Matt Tate from part time to full time

To purchase a Bobcat 4×4 utility vehicle for $7,484.00 along with a trade in of $3600.00 for a Brush Cat

And to purchase a control panel for the Shamrock Lift Station for approximately $15,000.00.

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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