By WARREN SCOTT
WELLSBURG - The Brooke County Commission learned Tuesday Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has awarded a $13,500 grant for a planned tie-in between three local water treatment systems.
Plans call for links to be established between water lines serving Beech Bottom, Wellsburg and the Hammond Public Service District.
The links would be opened temporarily so boil orders wouldn't be needed when line breaks occur and to maintain fire protection when water systems are disrupted by power outages or floods.
The Hammond PSD water treatment plant's clear well was flooded in 2004, and its customers were served by water buffaloes and bottled water supplied by the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services while the well was drained and cleared to prevent contamination.
In 2009 temporary lines were extended above the ground to the district from Wellsburg and the Ohio County Public Service District when a blizzard left the plant without power for a few days.
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 to the costs for engineering and construction for the estimated $150,000 project, which also will be funded by grants awarded by the state Infrastructure Council and state Legislature.
In related business, county Commissioner Jim Andreozzi asked Barbara Zimnox, community development specialist for the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, to seek funds to replace an electrical panel at the Hammond water treatment plant.
A boil order has been in effect for Hammond customers on state Route 67 and Chapman Heights since the panel failed last week. The equipment failure hasn't disrupted service to the two areas, said Hammond Superintendent Bob Sadler, who was called for comment.
Sadler said the boil order may be lifted later today, pending tests of water samples taken from the system. He said bids are being sought for a new panel, which has an estimated cost of $60,000 to $80,000.
Zimnox also told the commissioners she and the Brooke-Hancock Regional Planning and Development Council, the economic development arm of BHJ, still needs people in Brooke and Hancock counties to answer an online survey gauging the availability of broadband Internet service.
Found online at www.regionalbroadbandsurvey.com, the survey asks participants if Internet service is accessible from their homes, how many in their households use the Internet and for what purposes, among other things.
Those who don't have access to the Internet at home may respond to the survey through computers found at local public libraries. Zimnox said there are separate surveys for residents and business leaders but those who are both should answer both. She said thus far a little less than 100 have participated, and the group would like more responses.
The council and other regional development councils throughout the state that have been charged by the West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council with identifying areas of need and infrastructure projects to make broadband Internet service available.
Residents may submit their responses anonymously but are asked to include their ZIP code to help in identifying areas where service is needed.
Broadband Internet service is able to convey data at faster speeds than the older, dial-up Internet access, and the state council also is asking state legislators to raise the minimum speed available through broadband Internet providers.
Also on Tuesday, Andreozzi told Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson he's received complaints of shingles and other trash being illegally dumped at the ballfield in Louise.
Jackson said he will investigate but added residents should report illegal dumping when it occurs to increase the sheriff's department's chance of catching the person. He said he's advised his deputies to be watchful of trucks traveling with trash late at night.
Commission President Tim Ennis noted the Brooke County Landfill waives dumping fees for Brooke County residents on the last business day of each month.
The commissioners noted the landfill doesn't accept all materials. For example, state law prohibits computers, televisions and other devices with screens from being dumped at landfills because they contain potential contaminants. Such devices are accepted at the Brooke County Waste Authority's Recycling Center in Beech Bottom.
Those with questions about the landfill should call (304) 748-0014. For questions about the recycling center, call (304) 527-3947.