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Brooke County Commission approves money for sewer efforts

Warren Scott PROJECTS PLANNED — The Brooke County Commission Friday granted a request for funding from the Brooke County Public Service District to pursue wastewater treatment systems for potential new businesses in Beech Bottom and about a dozen customers in the Franklin Manor area of Washington Pike. The money will come from $4.2 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds awarded to the county.

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Commission has agreed to provide $567,300 to the Brooke County Public Service District to plan a sewer project in Beech Bottom and extend sewer lines to about a dozen homes on state Route 27.

The commissioners, during their meeting Friday, said the money will come from $4.2 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds awarded to the county for projects involving infrastructure, leaving $3.6 million still untapped.

The commission agreed to provide $517,300 to the district to connect about a dozen residences in the Franklin Manor area of Route 27, also known as Washington Pike, and Drover’s Inn, a business.

Plans call for the new customers to be tied into an existing package treatment plant.

Jacob Keeney, assistant director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle; said a wastewater treatment system serving five businesses at the Beech Bottom Industrial Park has reached its capacity and there are no sewer lines for about 120 acres owned by the BDC north of it.

He told the commissioners funds are needed for a study to determine the feasibility of serving that area so existing businesses at the industrial park may expand and new ones can be attracted to the vacant land.

The industrial park was developed from the former Wheeling Corrugating plant by the BDC, which has attracted several diverse businesses since 2012.

Among them are Jupiter Aluminum, which recycles aluminum for a variety of industrial and commercial uses; and Southwestern Energy.

Archie Doll, a member of the district’s board, suggested the funds should be invested in extending water and sewer lines to residents only.

He said most existing area industries have their own wastewater treatment systems and residential customers shouldn’t be saddled with the cost for the district to serve industrial users.

Doll said there are more homes within one mile of Route 67 than all of those found on Windsor Heights, but that village is served by public sewer lines.

Terry Bonaventura, also a member of the district’s board, said it currently is pursuing the third and final phase of the Eldersville Road sewer project.

The Brooke County PSD has secured a $5.45 million loan and a $500,000 grant from the state Infrastructure and Job Development Council for the project, which is expected to serve about 178 homes in the area of Eldersville and St. John’s roads.

County Commissioner Stacey Wise said revenue from additional customers, including large businesses, helps keep water and sewer rates lower for existing users.

Commission President A.J. Thomas agreed, saying, “Without attracting industries here, we’re not going to have enough people here to keep the systems going at an affordable rate.”

Bonaventura said the cost for the district to serve an industry will depend on the type of business but potential new businesses will favor sites where utilities exist over those where they must build it themselves.

County Commissioner Tim Ennis said additional federal money for infrastructure is anticipated and completing the engineering for them greatly improves their chance of being funded.

“We’re trying to be ahead of the game and have things already in place so we can apply when it’s available,” he said.

Wise said staff with the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission has been meeting with the county’s other public service districts to discuss needs that may be met with other federal funds.

In related business, the commission agreed to submit a letter of support for the city of Weirton’s application for money through the U.S. Economic Development Administration to increase the capacity of the city’s sewer plant to serve additional homes and businesses.

City officials are eyeing $22.5 million in upgrades.

In other business, the commissioners:

≤ Opened two bids for four sport utility vehicles for the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department: $36,845 per vehicle from the Stephens Auto Center of Danville, W.Va., and $40,871 per vehicle from Jim Robinson Ford Lincoln of Triadelphia, W.Va.

The bids were tabled for further review.

≤ Appointed David Klick to represent the county on the C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. advisory board. The commissioners said they will continue to accept letters of interest in a new board that will oversee the county’s ambulance service as well as a seat on the county museum board.

They may be sent to the office of County Clerk Kim Barbetta.

≤ Expressed condolences to the family of Evelyn Rogers, who served as deputy county clerk for more than 20 years. Rogers died on Jan. 15 at the age of 90.

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

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