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Elkins City Council passes sewage upgrade ordinance

Date for businesses to have key lock boxes also set

November 16, 2012
By Anthony Gaynor - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

Elkins City Council passed the second reading of an ordinance Thursday that will allow the city to issue bonds to help pay for upgrades in the city's storm water and sanitary sewer system. The money will be used to help the city meet goals in the longterm control plan to reduce the amount of sewer run-off into the Tygart River.

The $600,000 worth of bonds will serve as bridge funding until the city obtains state revolving fund money. Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley said the city has been approved for the state funding pay for the first phase of work in the long-term control plan. The funding from the state is a 40-year loan at zero percent interest.

The project aimed at separating the sanitary sewer from the storm sewer is rewired as part of a consent decree with the EPA because of the city's failure to meet the Clean Water Act.

The first phase of the project is slated to cost an estimated $2 to $2.5 million. The first phase of the long-term control plan includes College Street sewer separation, Barron Avenue rehabilitation, Kerens Avenue and Wilson Street sewer separation.

The consent decree with the EPA is aimed to improve the capacity of the sewer plant. The city must separate the two systems to prevent sewer overflow from dumping into the river during high rain events.

The second phase of the project is tentatively slated to include a Lavalette Street and Elm Street sewer separation and the purchase of a new jetter/vector truck. Phase two will have to be designed by April 30, 2019; construction must be completed by Dec. 31, 2021; and post-construction monitoring must be submitted by March 31, 2023.

In other council news, businesses in Elkins have until Nov. 5, 2013 to have key lock boxes installed. Elkins Fire Department Chief Tom Meader said the boxes can help prevent damage to their buildings in the case of a false alarm or a broken sprinkler system.

"There is a year to comply," Meader said of the ordinance that passed a second reading during a special council meeting on Nov. 5. "There are not many businesses without them right now."

The box will house a key to the business so the fire department does not have to wait for someone to bring a key to open the building. Meader said the key to unlock all the boxes in town will be housed on board the city's fire trucks, and a record will be kept every time it is accessed.

"It is a good thing and can save a lot of damage," Meader said. "The boxes cost an average of $300."

Meader said sometimes sprinkler systems and fire alarms can fail to go off even when there is not a fire. He said with the new system the fire department can access a building without having to break down the door or wait for a key holder.

He said the American Mountain Theater had a sprinkler water line break and someone driving by heard a bell that rings outside the building when the system is using water. He said the individual contacted the fire department and fire fighters were able to access the building without damaging the door and preventing massive water damage at the building.

According to the ordinance, each lock box will contain labeled keys to the following locations: to locked points of egress, whether on the interior or exterior of the building; to locked mechanical rooms; to locked elevator rooms; to the elevator controls; to any fence or secured areas; and any other areas as directed by the fire chief. Any box containing more than 15 keys will also have to include a floor plan.

Meader urged any business owner with questions about the ordinance or how the system works to contact the fire department by calling 304-636-3433. He said business owners can begin the process of installing one of the systems by filling out an application at the fire department.

Once the application is turned in, the lock box will be shipped to the business to be installed. Once installed, the fire department will lock the box with the department's key.

"We check them once a year to make sure the keys are correct," Meader said.

Contact Anthony Gaynor by email at



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