Projects before Brooke officials

WELLSBURG – Matters involving sewer and water projects and local public service districts were before the Brooke County Commission on Tuesday.

The commission authorized the Brooke County Public Service District board to seek qualifications for engineers interested in doing a study on the feasibility of extending sewer lines to the southern half of Brooke County.

Terry Bonaventura, Brooke County PSD chairman, said a countywide water and sewer needs study done by Ghosh Engineering several years ago needs updating.

He said the plan proposes Follansbee serve Washington Pike, for example, but Wellsburg now has the capacity to serve that area.

The study will help the district determine the estimated cost of extending sewer lines to various areas in the south end of the county.

Washington Pike, McKinleyville, Bethany Pike, Cross Creek and 49 Hill in Beech Bottom are all areas the district’s board have discussed in recent years.

Asked about the estimated cost for the study, Barbara Zimnox, community development specialist for the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, said it could cost about $50,000.

The Ghosh study cost $100,000 but included the entire county, she noted.

Commission President Tim Ennis noted such studies are needed to secure funds for the projects.

The Brooke County Public Service District currently is securing easements for a sewer project involving about 89 homes in Louise, a small community off Cross Creek Road; Latimer Avenue, Bosley Run and Black’s Hollow.

The district has secured a $700,000 Small Cities Block Grant for the project, which is a continuation of the $10 million Eldersville Road-Mahan Lane-Bruin Drive sewer project that was funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other sources.

Zimnox said the district hopes construction can begin this fall.

In other business, the commission received notice the Hammond Public Service District board is considering a rate increase and has published a legal ad announcing that.

The county commissioners had been working closely with the board after its three former members resigned last year and the commissioners briefly filled their seats until new members were recruited.

County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said the board hasn’t determined how much the increase may be or filed for an increase with the state Public Service Commission.

But he said the district’s budget was in the red for each of the last two months. It also is greatly lacking in funds for repairs and replacement of parts and nearly depleted its savings to replace an electrical panel at the treatment plant, he said.

Andreozzi acknowledged the state Public Service Commission has suggested various options, including merging with another district. But he said he and the new Hammond board hope to avoid that if possible.

“We’re looking at every avenue we can,” he said.

The commissioners said such financial woes won’t affect the Hammond district’s part in a project involving emergency tie-ins between water lines serving the district, Wellsburg and Beech Bottom.

The tie-in will involve extending underground lines between Wellsburg and Hammond on state Route 67 and between Hammond and Beech Bottom along state Route 2 near the dog kennels. A tie-in between Wellsburg and Hammond already has been created on state Route 27 at those two parties’ expense.

Officials with the Hammond district, Wellsburg, Beech Bottom, Business Development Corp. and Chesapeake Energy, as well as the county commission and the county’s economic development authority, all have agreed to contribute funds for the estimated $150,000 project.

Ennis said the commission must move forward on the project before June or risk losing funds through the state Infrastructural Council secured by local legislators.

Zimnox said bids for a contractor should be sought soon.