Whiteman Hill Residents Are Disappointed In Water Exclusion
Whiteman Hill residents were present for the Wetzel County Commission meeting March 24, expressing their disappointment that Public Service District #1 is not currently pursuing providing water to them.
The PSD is applying for a Small Cities Block Grant that would provide water to Richwood Run, State Road Run, Eight Mile Ridge, and Chiselfinger Ridge. The Whiteman Hill, or New Martinsville Ridge, area was originally part of the project, however Commission President Don Mason explained to the residents why the Whiteman Hill area was cut from the project.
Mason talked of how Forrest Tennant, chairman of PSD #1, was present at a past county commission meeting on March 10 to discuss the issue. Mason explained how Tennant went into detail of the Whiteman Hill area and why it was cut from their project because of cost. This area required its own pump station and tank which raised the cost of the expansion to Whiteman Hill to $42,000 per household, or $1.5 million.
Bob Gorby, commissioner, told the residents that Scott Hicks of Belomar Regional Council mentioned an Environmental Protection Agency State and Tribal Grant (STAG) might be available next fall for Whiteman Hill as another avenue to pursue. Paul Weaver, resident of Whiteman Hill asked, “Are you supporting this project?” Gorby replied, “Absolutely.”
Weaver also asked the commissioners, “Do you have a say in these PSD projects?”
Mason explained that the PSD and the engineers do the planning and cost figures of each water expansion project and the commission has no say where it goes. He also explained that Belomar Regional Council writes up the grants needed.
One concerned resident explained to the commissioners how hard it is to drill a water well on Whiteman Hill and how on his property they drilled in different locations trying to find water.
Weaver told the commission, “We as a group want the commission to help us. We are only a little section that doesn’t have water, others around us have it.”
Resident Helen Earley asked the commission “Why are other communities getting water and not us?”
Mason said, “Out of defense for the PSD, they thought they would get it there (Whiteman Hill) this time.”
Emphasizing the need for water in the area, a resident alleged the Wetzel County Landfill has contaminated their wells and many were supposedly checked out by the Tyler/Wetzel Health Department. One lady told Mason that a 2001/2002 EPA study was done on property owners’ wells to prove they were contaminated.
Mason noted this, saying that maybe because of the issue of possible water contamination, there is some emergency funding out there to help.
Resident Jeff Shade asked the commission, “What branch of government brought this landfill in this area?” The commission didn’t know the answer to that question.
Mason told the residents the commission would try all avenues they can to lobby for them. He also asked the residents to contact PSD #1 and they could explain more to them at their next scheduled meeting, April 6 at 10 a.m. at their building in Reader.
In other matters brought forth before the commission, Circuit Clerk Sharon Dulaney asked the commissioners for an increase to supplement her budget to change one of their current part-time employees to full time status.
She will help with making copies and performing many tasks to assist in the office. Like County Clerk Carol Haught, Dulaney is seeing an increase in copies being made by abstractors in the courthouse doing research. She told the commissioners of how damages to her old record books are happening from the abstractors making copies, including torn book handles.
The commissioners asked if she is seeing an increase of revenues from the copies being made in the courthouse and she replied, “Definitely.”
She asked for a $17,718 to supplement her budget until the end of the fiscal year. This would pay for the additional wages and benefits.
The commissioners said they would discuss the increase and would let her know their decision.