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Marlinton Mayor’s Corner

Wow! Do I have water plant news this week, and I hope it reminds each of us – Never say “Never!”

The Region 4 staff are specialists who balance complex projects in a five-county area, while keeping fingers on the funding pulse. They, and others close to the state budget situation, believed trying to scale back or waiting for a better scenario to reduce plant refurbishing costs were not reasonable options. Waiting could include increased costs and having to deal with even tighter state funding in the future.

Besides that, what if we experienced a major plant failure in the process?

So, I hope you continue to read.

It was following a rather negative, early June WVDO conference call, regarding the water plant project, that an old adage was quoted: “Sometimes we have not, because, we ask not.”

One thing would be certain. If we did not seek – we would not find.

So, with the hope of making the project happen and keeping the proposed water rate increase as low as possible, we asked for – Another Million Dollars in Grant Funding.

Knowing such a request might require a miracle, we asked anyway – hoping to get something.

I traveled to Charleston July 25 with the Region 4 PDC Director and his assistant. We were there for the technical meeting that took place before the funding meeting. Several factors were discussed that had affected the project to that point. Number one, the (new) Health Department requirements had not been a part of the initial design. Yes – the new requirements had increased the cost. Yes – a revised plan had savings of more than $300,000, but the final estimate was still $2.5M higher than the original proposal.

The board’s acknowledgement made me realize that, going forward, accounting for any water loss will have to remain a priority. Marlinton’s success in lowering the Water Loss rate within the system was discussed. Each new water customer on the Brush Country water extension is a benefit overall. In the event of an emergency, the Town’s proximity to the next nearest public water system was a factor. But, the Town’s decision to improve the water loss ratios, as a priority, was a huge factor in the Board’s final decision.

Remember, we did not expect a decision from the meeting until August 2. However, we came out of the meeting with an answer to prayer.

It was noted that Marlinton has been meeting deadlines and working in the right direction, and the board needed to do its part. At this point, Mr. John Tuggle seized the opportunity. He stepped back to the microphone, and on behalf of the Marlinton Water Plant Project, asked the Board Chairman for a Binding Commitment – and it was granted.

If you were to ask the question, “how does it feel when your town receives an extra million bucks to move a much-needed project nearer to completion?” The answer is, “It feels pretty awesome.”

So, here’s the deal as it stands:  total estimated cost of the project will remain at $6.5M dollars, less Small Cities Block Grant of $1.5 million, less this second $1 million IJDC grant, which will leave $4 million to finance at one (1) percent interest for 38 years.

This only means the financing is in place.

Next comes BPH certification and a hearing with the Public Service Commission.

After that we go to bid, and our prayer should be that a bid comes back under the estimate.

In today’s economy, that’s as good as it gets.

But, just to keep things in perspective:

Wednesday morning, it was time to get back to junk cars, report of a loose dog that had attacked another dog that was being walked on a leash. There were complaints that chickens and rabbits were the reason the town has been invaded by skunks – some of which have been found to have rabies.

Be Careful and Beware.

It’s a jungle out there, but, we’re working on it!

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