Snowshoe Homeowner Appointed To PSD Board
Marlinton, WV – The Pocahontas County Commission appointed a Snowshoe homeowner to the county Public Service District board at their meeting Tuesday. David Litsey, an outspoken opponent of the current proposed regional sewer plant at Linwood, will replace PSD Chairman Mark Smith in late September. For supporters of the regional sewer plan as designed by Thrasher Engineering, this may be akin to letting the fox in the henhouse.
The appointment was vehemently opposed by Snowshoe area homeowner Russell Holt. Holt accuses Litsey and Commissioners David Fleming and Martin Saffer of supporting a plan that violates a 2008 Consent decree mandating a regional sewer facility to service Snowshoe and the surrounding valley. Holt says that plan, a proposal by engineer David Rigby, would only address wastewater treatment on top of the mountain.
“And now they’re rushing to exclude everybody in the valley and future Snowshoe Mountain Corporation growth in the name of doing it right'” says Holt “with their $6.5 or 14 million dollar project or whatever Litsey, Rigby, Frankenstein incarnation of the Hawthorne Valley plant that also intended to exclude the valley.”
Holts comments didn’t appear to phase Commission President Saffer.
“This is a big concern to the future of the county” says Saffer. “I am not shaken by the fact that people get upset about it. Now I understand that you and Snowshoe have file suit in the [West Virginia] Public Service [Commission].”
“Ike Morris, Ralph Beckwith, Frank Santmeyer and Harvey Galford; they represent all of us” say Holt.
Holt says the West Virginia DEP is also filing as yet unknown lawsuits against the PSD.
A Little History
Snowshoe had petitioned the West Virginia Public Service Commission for approval to retrofit their sewer facilities to eliminate higher than allowed discharges of certain chemicals. However, several residents in the area, including Holt, filed as interveners in the case. Their argument was that Snowshoe would use up all of the allotted wastewater capacity at their facilities, leaving nothing for the valley.
The interveners persuaded the PSC to issue a ruling requiring a regional solution that would serve the valley and the mountain. Holt says the Rigby proposal is a similar proposal and vows to defeat it once again.
Holt, PSD member Amon Tracey, PSD water manager Ricky Barkley and former PSD project coordinator Kermit Friel all asked the Commissioners to re-appoint PSD Chairman Mark Smith. Litsey and Durbin resident Mike Vance also submitted letters of interest in the PSD board position. Smith also spoke on his own behalf, saying although his decisions have not always been easy he’s made them in the best interest of county residents.
Commissioner Reta Griffith made a motion to reappoint Smith, but the motion was voted down two to one. Commissioner Saffer then made a motion to appoint David Litsey.
Commissioner Fleming says he recognizes that Smith has been instrumental in bringing improvements to the Durbin-Frank-Bartow water system. However, he says he feels new leadership is needed on the PSD. He offers this on his reason for backing Litsey.
“Mr. Litsey, in my view, represents as aspect of thinking that has long been sought in this process” says Fleming. “His willingness to bring his experience to the board, albeit untested in this role, is promising.”
“His experience with previous sewer work is encouraging. His insistence that good ideas are continue to be discussed and entertained – I find that to be imperative.”
Litsey was appointed to the board on a two to one vote with Griffith opposed. He will assume his position on the board in late September. With this appointment, water customers in Durbin, Frank and Bartow will have no voting representative on the PSD board.
In other business Commissioners Griffith and Fleming reappointed Mark Agee, Helen Clark and Jason Hall to the county Emergency Medical Services Authority board per the written request by that board. Sheila Saffer and Chris Weber had also applied for the positions. However, the Commission followed the boards’ recommendations in order to ensure that all the county squads have equal representation on that board.
They also reappointed Cathy Mosseso and Donald McNeel to the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees. Daniel P Lewis had also expressed his interest in serving on that board. Fleming, in making the motion, says he’s worked with both Mosseso and McNeel and feels they’re well versed with that boards needs.