PSD Board Adds Question & Answer Session To Regular Meeting

Durbin, WV – The Pocahontas County Public Service District board has allowed public comment at their meetings for some time, but it’s always been a one-sided affair. This has been a source of frustration for PSD board member Amon Tracey.

“There’s nothing that makes me any madder than to go to one of these meetings and you ask a question and they sit there and look at you and say no, we’re not going to answer that” says Tracey. “So here’s your turn.”

At their meeting Tuesday night, the board allowed 1 hour for a question and answer session. Russell Holt was the first to speak. Holt, in a seemingly combative mood, didn’t hold anything back, especially concerning PSD Board chairman Tom Shipley and new board member David Litsey.

“Tom Shipley is a business failure” says Holt “if he is not removed for his lies, deception, duplicity and malfeasance, he will lead Snowshoe and this county into his business failure. Litsey is mired in business conflicts.”

Holt continues, lobbing a number of accusations at both board members including misappropriation of public funds among other sins. It’s important to note that Holt is one of six plaintiffs in a case currently before the West Virginia Public Service Commission asking that body to force the PSD to build the Thrasher Engineering designed regional sewer plant at Linwood. The PSD board formally dropped that proposal earlier this year.

Holt says the West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection has submitted a letter to the PSC in support of the Linwood plant. He also cites a November 23rd letter from Craig Cobb, a Supervising District Engineer with the WV Dept of Health and Human Services. In the letter, Cobb notes that the existing sewer plants at Snowshoe are nearing the end of their useful life expectancies and urges the PSD to move expeditiously towards establishing a regional plant. Board member David Litsey is familiar with the letter, but has also spoken with Cobb and had this to offer.

“I talked with Mr. Cobb and he acknowledged, in fact he published a letter today, that he was not informed on the alternatives and that he spoke to try and support his close personal friends” says Litsey.

Another perspective of the board was provided by Sam Collins, of the Silver Creek Homeowners Association. Collins read from a homeowner letter praising both Litsey and Shipley for their work on the board. Collins also asked board members if they are worried about possible fines imposed by the WV DEP for pollution violations. Litsey says yes, they are concerned, but he says the DEP is just as guilty for the pollution as Snowshoe.

“If the DEP comes into Pocahontas County, they’re going to come in not only as plantiff, but as a defendant” says Litsey “for their failure to enforce the Clean Water Act of 1973 and the continuous pollution that they have inflicted on the Elk [River]. I compliment Mr. Holt and the excellent job he did in documenting and pointing out how culpable the DEP is in failing to deal with the issue of waste load allocation.”

Bruce Wessel, Vice President of the Snowshoe Property Owners Council, asked PSD member Amon Tracey why he still supports the Linwood plant proposal, which includes a gravity-fed sewer line coming down the mountain. Tracey says his support is based on his history working in the coal mines.

“I was the manager of several coal mines” says Tracey. “The largest pumping station east of the Mississippi River, I helped design it, installed it and managed it. So yes, I am pretty much up to power on pumping and gravity lines.”

He then went into a lengthy explanation of how the gravity-fed line to the Linwood plant could be managed to avoid a possible ecological disaster. Wessel was unconvinced.

“I think I’d like to listen to an engineer” says Wessel. “No, I’m not an engineer, in fact I’m an eighth grade dummy” says Tracey.

“But you even said you had failures” says Wessel. “Yes I did” says Tracey “[but with] under pressure lines, not gravity.”

Eight firms have submitted bids for addressing the wastewater treatment needs for Snowshoe Mountain and the Hawthorne Valley. Those proposals are now under consideration by the PSD board.

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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