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Wellsburg discusses water, sewer issues

WELLSBURG — Communication between the public and the city’s water customers during emergencies and the status of upcoming water and sewer projects were among issues discussed by the Wellsburg water-sewer board on Wednesday.

The board heard from resident Tammy Provenzano, who said she had difficulty reaching city personnel after discovering dark water from her faucets during two recent weekends.

Water Superintendent Rick Stewart said on one weekend the water plant was without phone service due to a power outage.

City Manager Steve Maguschak said in addition to calling the water department at (304) 737-3002 and leaving a message, customers may dial the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department’s non-emergency number at 737-3660.

He said dispatchers there have been given contact numbers for staff in the event of emergencies.

Maguschak added he plans to post contact information on the city’s website at www.cityofwellsburg.us.

First Ward Councilman Jack Kins, who is a member of the water-sewer board, apologized to Provenzano, adding efforts will be made to improve communications.

Provenzano said she isn’t aware of neighbors having the same water discoloration and was told it may be due to deterioration of the galvanized lines within her home.

Maguschak agreed that can lead to the discoloration.

Provenzano also complained about leaves and other debris filling a ditch near her home on Sycamore Street, causing rain to flow across the road. She said several years ago city crews cleared the culvert but she doesn’t believe they do that anymore.

Maguschak said the city code holds property owners responsible for clearing the ditches.

In other business, Ryan Schuster of Thrasher Engineering said there are plans in the spring to advertise for a contractor for major upgrades planned for the city’s water treatment system.

The estimated $5.3 million project is slated to include the replacement of lines and hydrants along Charles, Main and Commerce streets from Second to 12th streets, installation of valves to prevent large areas of the city from losing service when line breaks occur, and electrical and other upgrades to the water treatment plant.

Schuster added plans for new stormwater lines on the city’s east side have been submitted for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s approval.

FEMA has awarded the city $1.07 million to address runoff from the adjacent hillside that has flooded Pleasant Avenue and Commerce Street (state Route 2).

Plans call for the replacement of a stormwater line along Pleasant Avenue and installation of a new outfall to the Ohio River at 27th Street.

Board members also heard from Water Superintendent Rick Stewart, who asked them to consider raises for staff at the city’s water and wastewater departments.

Stewart said his staff have put in extended hours repairing line breaks and has been very reliable. He added with major water and sewer projects forthcoming, he’d like to retain the experienced workers.

Stewart suggested an across the board hourly raise of $1 for about a dozen workers in the two departments.

While some support for the raises was voiced, board members said they want to review the departments’ finances before considering the pay hikes.

Mayor Sue Simonetti said she noticed crews using flashlights during recent line breaks at night and was concerned about their safety.

Third Ward Councilman Randy Fletcher said the city could purchase a light tower and generator and asked Stewart to get estimates.

The meeting closed with an executive session with Bill Cipriani, a local attorney hired by the city to negotiate a potential lease of city property for underground natural gas drilling by Southwestern Energy.

No action was taken by the board afterward.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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