Upshur water project to receive $1 million in funding

Residents in the Elkins Road Public Service District learned of a potential water service project that could bring improvements to the existing lines and new service to 82 customers, should the project receive more than $1 million from the Small Cities Block Grant program.

Shane Whitehair, the director of the Region VII Planning and Development Council, told the Upshur County Commission during a public hearing Thursday that the state is expected to have less than $7 million to dole out for projects this year, but will receive more than $40 million in requests.

The cost of the Elkins Road PSD project is anticipated to cost about $5.7 million. The agency is requesting the maximum allowed $1.5 million from the Small Cities Block Grant program, and the rest will come from grants and loans from other state organizations. The loan is expected to be for more than $3 million.

Once the project is completed, customers could see their minimum monthly bills increase from $26.49 for 3,000 gallons of usage to around $45. Elkins Road PSD has already applied to the state Public Service Commission for an increase because of the increased cost in obtaining service from the City of Buckhannon.

Whitehair said the state may delay committing funds to the Elkins Road PSD proposal until after a project in the Adrian area is completed.

“They want to make sure the Adrian project is fully funded,” he said. “They don’t want to start any new projects until Adrian is fully funded.”

Thrasher Engineering’s Greg Belcher said the Elkins Road project includes remedying a low-pressure problem in the Ellamore area, adding four generators to existing booster stations, painting water tanks and building a new office and storage area for the PSD.

In other county commission business, the commissioners approved the hiring of Sharon O’Hearn as the county’s fire fee assistant in the sheriff’s tax office. Sheriff Dave Coffman said O’Hearn’s U.S. Navy training in hazardous materials incidents and fire safety, along with her secretarial and bookkeeping skills, made her an ideal candidate for the job. She will start in a part-time capacity on April 21 and be moved to a full-time position on May 5.

The commissioners also approved the promotion of Quayla Bennett to a full-time deputy county clerk and the hiring of Christine Loudin-Edwards as a part-time clerk. Commissioner Buddy Brady voted against the moves, saying he believes the existing staff could be more efficiently utilized.

April was declared as Fair Housing Month in the county by a resolution. Posters detailing the federal law and West Virginia Fair Housing laws will be posted at the courthouse.