Upshur Commission funds water infrastructure project

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes Rob Hinton, executive director of the Upshur County Development Authority, requested $90,000 of the county’s coal allocation fund for a water infrastructure project at the Upshur County Industrial Park Thursday.

BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commission approved $90,000 from the Coal Allocation Fund to go towards a water infrastructure project at the Upshur County Industrial Park during its regular meeting Thursday.

Upshur County Development Authority executive director Rob Hinton said funds were needed to install an inline booster station to increase water pressure, a project that he has been working on since he assumed his role in August 2014.

EL Robinson provided engineering services pro bono and the project received its permit in spring 2016.

The UCDA then put the project out for bids but lost a tenant at the armory around the same time frame which limited the funding the UCDA had available causing the UCDA to rely on its reserve funding to operate, according to Hinton.

A tenant was found for the armory in 2018 but the UCDA is still not in a position to fund the booster station without assistance.

“We have secured $65,000 from the Governor’s Community Participation Program through Senate and House efforts,” Hinton said.

The UCDA has also submitted an application to the West Virginia Development Office for more funding.

“I asked for $199,000 to close the total funding gap,” he said. “There’s no guarantee that we will get the $199,000. We will get whatever amount the [West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council] board feels is appropriate for this project. However, we were advised to ask for our full need.”

The request will be reviewed internally this month and could then be placed on the IJDC agenda for March.

“One of the selling points from securing any money from IJDC is local participation,” he said. “The county commission participating in the project in some capacity is required as a match to secure an award for additional IJDC funds.”

This summer West Virginia Split Rail plans to break ground on a new manufacturing facility at the park which will add about 30 jobs. The company needs assurances the inline water booster station will be installed to meet its fire suppression and protection needs.

“This project has to move forward,” Hinton said of the booster station. “They are going to need to have this booster station at least under construction to let them know this is actually going to happen.”

Commissioner Terry Cutright noted the coal reallocation fund can only be used for infrastructure projects.

“I make a motion we approve the $90,000,” Cutright said. “We need to finish this project. It’s been on the table way too long.”

Commission president Sam Nolte said he was familiar with the project.

“It has been hanging out there for a long time,” Nolte agreed. “The longer we wait, the more expensive it keeps getting.”

The lowest bid in 2016 came back at $260,000 and now the project is expected to cost around $350,000.

Depending on how the internal review goes this month, Hinton said he would like to bid the project in March and have bids come back by the beginning of April.

There would be a 60-day bid hold which allows the UCDA to know what funding it has before it awards the bid but the process would already be started.

If construction can begin by early May and weather is good, the project could be completed in the summer.

In other business, the commission accepted the resignation of deputy Seth Cutright from the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department effective Feb. 16.

Commissioner Cutright thanked the deputy for his service.

“I wish him luck on his endeavors and he has been a great deputy for the county.”

Nolte echoed those comments.

“We’ve all known Seth since he was a little kid and he has been an asset to the county. We wish him well.”

Sheriff David Coffman said that Cutright was leaving the department to pursue another opportunity and he wished him well.

The vacancy will create a hardship on the department with being down a deputy.

“We don’t have the resources and manpower on a good day and now we are going to be down a man,” he said. “We are going to work on our schedule and continue our 24/7 coverage.”

Coffman said the civil service board will have to advertise and test for a new deputy position.

If the deputy selected is not certified, he or she will need to complete the 16-week police academy and it could be a nine to 10 month process before he or she is able to patrol on their own.

If certified, Coffman said that takes about three months off the process.

In other business, the commission:

• Awarded a bid to Discount Communications and Electronics which submitted two bid options for the LE SIRN Mobile Radio Project – one for a Harris brand of radios and the second for the Kenwood brand of radios. After reviewing the bids, the commission chose to go with the Harris brand and awarded the bid for $96,384 with a recommended option of $2,094 to Discount Communications and Electronics. There were three bids received total from two companies. Lauttamus Communications was the second company that submitted a bid. Funding for the project comes from a grant received from the Department of Homeland Security.

• Approved the use of the courthouse annex foyer during March 11-15 to serve as a drop-off location for donations to support the feminine hygiene drive. Donations will benefit the Upshur Cooperative Parish House, B-UMS, B-UHS and Blessing Boxes throughout the city.

reappointed A.G. Trusler to the Upshur County Building Commission with a term to expire Nov. 10, 2023.

• Approved the resignation of Travis Anderson, E-911 telecommunicator, announcing his resignation effective Feb. 18. Doyle Cutright, E-911 director, said Anderson was leaving for another opportunity and had been with the center for two years.

• Reviewed correspondence from the West Virginia Archives and History announcing the award of $10,737 to be used by the assessor’s office to scan and index various documents and for the circuit clerk’s office to digitize chancery and law case files.

• Approved a letter to Hodgesville Public Service District and Tennerton Public Service District requesting a copy of their adopted budget and audit as required by West Virginia Code 16-13A-10 and 16-13A-11 respectively.

Nolte said, “We did receive some information last week but I don’t think it was what we were looking for – at least not what I was looking for.”

County administrator Carrie Wallace said, “I think the documentation you received is the same documentation that is submitted to the PSC when a PSD is looking to increase their rate and is not as detailed as the information that should be submitted to the PSD board and then submitted to you sitting as the commission.”

Commissioner Kristie Tenney suggested the county show the Hodgesville and Tennerton PSD what they received from the others to give them an idea of what they are looking for.