(12/26/2011)
Mt. Zion PSD Considers Adding More Waterlines

By David Hedges, Publisher

Roane County Reporter/Times Record

The biggest infrastructure project in Calhoun County history could get even bigger.

The Mt. Zion Public Service District received $5.2 million for a 21-mile waterline extension to serve some 200 homes along WV 16 south of Arnoldsburg and US 33 from Millstone to Sand Ridge.

Although the contractor installing the waterlines is already six months past the project deadline, with no completion date in sight, PSD members are considering adding some additional customers.

The project will have about $500,000 left when complete, PSD members said at their monthly meeting Monday night at the Arnoldsburg Community Building. The meeting had been postponed from the previous Monday when secretary/treasurer Shirley Mace, who had the key to the building, could not attend.

Project engineer Jim Hildreth told Mace, PSD chairman Sharon Postalwait and vice-chairman Roscoe "Cokie" Gainer the project surplus was $476,512, plus $75,000 if additional bonds are sold.

One option for the surplus is to extend the waterlines further to serve more customers.

Hildreth presented preliminary cost estimates for seven proposals.

The least expensive of those is an extension to the Deo Mace farm that would serve one customer at a projected cost of $32,400. One for Spring Run to serve two customers had a cost estimate of $55,200, while an extension on Milo Road that would also serve two customers has a price tag of $74,400.

An extension on Poling Road in the Sand Ridge area would serve found customers at a cost of $84,000. Two extensions were estimated at $252,000 each, including one on Siers Run that would serve seven homes and one in the Enon area for nine additional customers.

The most expensive would also bring in the most new customers. An extension up Crummis Creek Road would add 14 customers at a project cost of $384,000. Hildreth said that proposal would need further review because the amount of rock in that area.

The surplus might also be used to upgrade the existing system to better serve the 200 new customers being added.

Gainer said many pumps and other equipment are worn out, which might make serving new customers a challenge.

He said USDA officials, who are providing the money, are interested in seeing the existing system upgraded so that it can adequately serve all the customers.

The water project was supposed to have been completed six months ago, Gainer said prior to Monday's meeting. He said Bruce Allen Pipeline was given an additional two months because of weather-related problems, but the company was still four months behind schedule.

Hildreth noted that the latest target date Dec. 7 had passed and the system was still not not in operation.

"I have expressed (to the contractor) the district's need to get the service in place," Hildreth said, adding the next progress meeting with the contractor was January 3.

"I don't have any hopes we'll be finished by then," Hildreth said.

PSD members also meet with contractors who have functioned as water and sewer system operators since 2009.

Tom Fluharty, owner of B & T Battery Doctor, is retiring, so the company gave 30-day notice last month it would give up its $4,000 per month contract on December 15.

PSD administrative assistant Norma Collins said the PSD owes B&T more than $51,000, but Fluharty said it was $66,044.

"That's probably not all, but it's the main things," he said.

Fluharty asked for $1,000 per month until the debt is paid, with a 25% surcharge if the payment is not made. PSD members said they would have the request reviewed by an attorney.

Dick Ullum, who works for B&T, is owned almost $15,000, PSD records indicate, for materials he has purchased and other work. Ullum said he might take the PSD to court and requested payment in full.

"I've waited long enough," he said.

"It's impossible," Mace said, pointing out the PSD had $5,000 in the bank.

"We agree you need to be paid," Postalwait said. "You have done a lot for us, but right now we don't have the money."

Collins she she was preparing a budget to pay the debts off.

Collins presented a report on what the PSD owes, including $9,600 she is owned and another $9,600 for former billing clerk Saundra Ballengee.

She said the three PSD board members, who are to receive $75 a month, plus another $50 for special meetings, have not been paid since 2009 and are each owed $2,000.

She said the Pit Stop, which previously collected bills for the PSD, is owed $1,250 and the PSD owes $19,000 on a bank loan to be paid back with funds from a grant that has been secured, plus another $10,000 in miscellaneous invoices, including utilities and water testing expenses.

The board went into closed session for nearly an hour to discuss applicants for the water and sewage operator's position to replace the B&T contract. Gainer said the hours and pay rate have not been se.

The board voted to offer the position to Grant Clark. If an agreement could not be reached with Clark, it will offered to Chance Hardway and then Steve Webb.

"Hopefully, someone will start tomorrow," Mace said.

Read full story in Times-Record/Roane County Reporter.


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