WELLSBURG - The Brooke County Public Service District Board, on Wednesday, was approached about leasing property for natural gas drilling and discussed areas that may be covered by the planned second phase of the Eldersville Road sewer project.
Jeremy Robertson and Dave Buchanan, land agents for the Honor Resources Co., an agent for Chesapeake Appalachia, asked the board to consider leasing up to 39 acres, for which it owns mineral rights, off state Route 27 between Bonnie Prince Drive and Manor Drive.
Robertson said the company would like to drill a well at the site and has obtained leases from owners of many of the neighboring properties.
He offered the board $2,000 to sign the lease and 18 percent per acre in royalties for gas produced by the well.
Board members asked how long the well was expected to produce gas.
Robertson said the lifespan of a working natural gas well isn't known yet but has been estimated at 15 to 35 years.
Members of the board said they had heard of others being offered more, and the agents said they were willing to negotiate.
Board member Archie Doll said he hopes revenue from the lease and royalties can be used to fund small sewer or water extension projects.
Wayne Mielke, the board's attorney, said there's a question of what the West Virginia Public Service Commission will permit public service districts in the state to do with such revenue because it's a new issue.
"We want to get the most we can and make sure it's OK with the PSC," he said.
In other business, Randy Watson, project engineer for Thrasher Engineering, suggested several areas that may be included in the second phase of the Eldersville Road sewer project.
They included the community of Louise off Cross Creek Road, Latimer Lane and Bosley Run and sections of St. John's or Eldersville roads.
Terry Bonaventura, the board's chairman, said a section of Eldersville Road east of the Chalfont property should be included as it was the impetus for the first phase.
Concerns about raw sewage from overflowing septic tanks entering nearby streams in that area led to $10 million being awarded for the first phase by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the efforts of former Congressman Alan Mollohan.
Through the $13 million project, sewer lines were extended to hundreds of homes on Mahan Lane, Eldersville Road west of Mahan Lane, Bruin Drive/Cross Creek Road and a section of St. John's Road.
The district has secured a $1.3 million Small Cities Block Grant for the next phase and has advertised for an accountant to determine how much the board may borrow to fund the rest of the project's cost.
The board agreed to hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. April 20, the deadline for bids from accountants, in hopes of naming one and expediting the project. The meeting will be held at the board's office at 711 Charles St.
Board member Bill Liposchak said the board must consider areas where the most customers may be served at the least cost. He added he won't support a project that will require the board to raise its rates because the district serves a high number of retirees.
In related business, the board referred to the state Public Service Commission a proposed agreement from the city of Follansbee calling for the district to read meters for the new sewer customers who receive water from the city and to terminate service to those customers for non-payment, if needed.
As in other areas, water meter readings are used by the district to calculate its sewer customers' usage. But Follansbee crews don't read the meters on the same schedule as the district, making it more practical for the district to do that, Mielke said.
But he recommended the proposal be reviewed by the state PSC before it's approved.
The board also agreed to refer to the contractor several areas that need to be restored following the sewer line extensions.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)