The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 9, 2013

Raleigh Commission puts up $65,000 for $25 million sewer project

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — A decade-long project to expand sewer service into the Marsh Fork District of Raleigh County came one step, and $65,000 closer Tuesday, but no dirt is likely to be turned until the middle of next year.

Already, the project has rung up a $900,000 bill, prompting Commission President Dave Tolliver to ask where it now stands.

“It’s ready to go construction,” answered Barry Milam, manager of the Crab Orchard/MacArthur Public Service District.

A major holdup is securing railroad permits, which run about $3,000 apiece, he pointed out.

Then, there is the matter of funding approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

If finally completed, the project in the Glen Daniel/Fairdale phase of the ambitious project would embrace another 600 households, businesses and schools. Already, some 140 are being served, it was pointed out.

“All the studies are done,” Milam told the commission. “We just don’t have the railroad permits.”

Milam had asked for $122,000 in additional money from the commission, but after discussing the request, Tolliver said the three agreed to slice that to $65,000.

“We think some things are a little elevated,” he explained.

“There’s a good possibility you’ll get the other $60,000 later on.”

Milam said there is no guarantee that the funding will be approved, and the project has to pass muster with the Public Service Commission.

“We want to try to make sure the citizens’ money is well spent, that we’re going to get some type of solution one way or another,” Tolliver said, emphasizing the project began back in 2002.

“I can’t agree more,” Milam said.

“What we lack down there is we don’t have anybody coming to the office or to board meetings pushing for the project, a grassroots effort. We really haven’t had any political push until you got involved with the project last year.”

Milam said about 70 percent of the easements have been secured.

Initially, the overall project was put at $44 million, embracing Lester, Glen White, Harper, Bolt, Surveyor, Glen Daniel and Fairdale, Milam pointed out, but federal officials said this amount couldn’t be approved as a whole in one funding package.

“So we broke it into phases and submitted three phases,” Milam said.

Broken down, the construction will cost $20,389,458, while $1.8 million is dedicated to engineering, $2,038,945 is for contingency.

Meantime, another major project — the Bragg/Pluto water line installation — is up for discussion July 15 at a 6:30 p.m. public hearing, Tolliver reminded attendees at the meeting.

The idea is to provide water service to 185 households now relying on wells along with 40 others who depend on a 2-inch line.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com