Brittany Carns and Nathaniel Manchin of EQT Corporation stopped by the Wetzel County Commission meeting Tuesday morning to address commissioners' concerns about heavy truck traffic from the gas industry.
Manchin stated that the two were, "Happy to try to help," and inquired as to whether or not the commission had "anything for us."
Commission Vice President Bob Gorby stated that as long as the two were taking care of complaints. "We put extra money in patrols and it's helping quite a bit."
"That's something we definitely support," noted Manchin. "It's something we tried to do. I don't know when and where it fell apart."
"I'll tell you one thing that Chesapeake got started one time," Gorby noted, "is not to have trucks at the same time as the buses on those narrow roads, and it worked out really well."
"We are almost there," said Manchin. "I'm having trouble from a construction standpoint, having those people comply . . . It's a constant watching . . . I just spoke with (Wetzel County Schools Transportation Director) Brian Jones two weeks ago and made sure our times were accurate. I think there were some inaccuracies regarding what times needed to be avoided for those buses."
"Did you get a letter from us or a call?" Gorby asked.
The two replied that they had not.
Gorby mentioned that a letter had been sent to "someone higher up", along with some pictures.
"Buses have been getting crowded off the roads, and some of the bigger trucks run in the center of the road." Gorby stated he was sure a lot of them were not EQT's, but perhaps a subcontractor.
Commissioner Larry Lemon said the heavy truck traffic issues are a continual concern. "We are particularly fearful for the residents that live in the area, as well as the school buses." He noted, "I know you try to do your best, but there are so many characters out there. It's hard to keep track. It'd be great to see how many people out there are transporting materials. It seems like an impossibility though."
Manchin stated that EQT is concerned too. "We have a third party that watches those guys. I think they are fairly effective, but you get a lot of CB transmission."
Gorby then addressed the weekly letters that EQT sends out. "There's a lot of extra stuff in that letter, but you know, you don't need to put it in there . . . directions from Clarksburg to get to your well," said Gorby. "The main thing we would like to have is to find out if you are drilling in the North Fork area, Jacksonburg. You know. Are you building a new pad in a certain area?"
"Yes, we will work to refine that," Manchin stated.
"There's a lot of information we don't need," Gorby reiterated.
"I don't know how to separate it out, but we'll work on refining it. The letter goes to emergency services as well. That's why directions are on there as well."
County Clerk Carol Haught expressed some doubts as to whether or not the heavy truck traffic situation was being taken care of on the gas industry's side, stating, "Show me. You haven't done that thus far."
"I've been trying," Manchin stated. "Brittany (Carns) has been trying. We will be here. We'll always be at the Oil and Gas Task Force meetings."
"But if the same problem occurs and no resolution occurs, that's not really much comfort," Haught noted.
"I understand," Manchin stated, citing the high activity level in the area.
"But we can't control that," Haught noted. "Those of us that live there don't control that."
"It's the industry," Manchin agreed. "And it's not just us."
Agreeing, Haught said, "No, it's the entire industry. It's the mentality of the industry . . . it's pervasive throughout the industry."
When asked if there had been any feedback from the sheriff," Gorby noted, "Yes, lots of tickets."
"Good," Carns commented.
"They can't be there 24/7," Haught reminded.
"Yes, I get back to the point . . . We should be self-policing," Manchin stated.
Gorby recalled one recent incident he had been told about by a driver who had already accumulated nine or 10 points on his license. "He said it was going to make him lose his CDL. What the deputy told him is to 'Keep your foot off the gas if you've got a problem with speeding.'"
Carns asked how long the commissioner's special funding for the extra patrols would last.
"Until they've exhausted it," Commissioner Lemon responded.
"We told them if they run out to come back," Gorby said. "We just decided to do that, and put the money in the budget and told them, you know, when you run out of money, come back."
Gorby added, "We appreciate you stopping in. If there's anything you need from us, that we can help you with . . ."
"Same here," Manchin stated. "Always call. We will always try to run stuff to the top as far as we can go."
"I know it's mostly subcontractors that are out there, but I'm sure you can control your subcontractors," Gorby said.
"We should be able to," Manchin said.
"I know some of them get rid of some of the drivers," Gorby stated.
"Yes, it's always good if we know," Manchin said. "If we get any information on who it was in any particular, specific incident. I know there's a general problem. But any specific incident . . . we can swiftly take care of that one."
In another matter, Rick Healy of Belomar Regional Council approached the commission to update them on the PSD 1 Waterline Extension.
Healy stated that a notice of intent to bid had been submitted to the development office on April 19 and that a pre-bid conference was scheduled for May 6. "The bid opening date is set for May 16," he noted. "So hopefully by the end of May, they will be able to award a contract to the project, and hopefully they can get the project moving again."
Healy stated that he had a request for payment, payment number six of the project.
The $4,364.86 covers administration costs that are paid to Belomar for the period of July 1, 2012, to the end of February 2013.
"The grant was dormant while things were happening," Healy explained. "so they weren't able to get attorney invoices quick enough. The state wanted a draw down, so if the commission would approve it . . . the draw and invoice both need signed."
The commission approved the draw down and signed the paperwork.