Commission hears request from City of Ripley, new fuel plan for sheriff and EMS

Suzette Lowe
Dan Ferrell, from the Thrasher Group, explains the scope of the new sewage treatment plant project.

The American Recovery Act funds the county is set to receive has the general usage guidelines of infrastructure, broadband, sewer and water projects.

Mayor Carolyn Rader asked the Jackson County Commission to consider assisting in the water and sewer project that would connect Evans and Ripley.

“We are doing away with 22.1 acres of lagoons and building a new treatment plant,” said Rader. “Since 2007, we have provided water and sewage to the Evans community. Tying them into this facility is going to be both a big project and an expensive one.”

The estimated cost to connect the more than 770 customers is $2.7 million. The complete cost to upgrade to the new treatment plant and eliminate the lagoons, at the direction of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, is approximately $28 million.

Dan Ferrell, utilities manager for the Thrasher Group, explained the entire project will take about two years.

“We will bid the project in the fall and it will take about 18 months to build,” he said. “But we need to get the tie in for Evans nailed down.”

Rader pointed out that this request wasn’t to benefit just Ripley.

“We’re asking your help in serving beyond our town’s borders,” she said. “This is vital to the citizens of Evans. We also sell water to the southern Jackson County Public Service District. This city helps those well beyond our physical limits. The economic impact of this new treatment plant can be huge. We will be able to handle water and sewage for any new businesses wanting to locate here.”

Commission President Dick Waybright said at this point, there are still no specific guidelines for the recovery act money. He will be attending a meeting next month with Senator Joe Manchin that will hopefully offer more explanation.

“We will give your request serious consideration,” he said.

Another proposal received positive reaction from Waybright and Commissioner Mitch Morrison. Commissioner Mike Randolph was unable to attend the meeting.

Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger gave details of a plan he had presented in a previous commission meeting.

Enterprise Fleet Management, which provides the method for department vehicles to be replaced, offers a fuel management plan. Mellinger, along with assistant Emergency Medical Services director Steve Nuckles, outlined the savings in both time and money if this proposal would be approved.

“Currently our officers only have the ability to get fuel for their vehicles at Duke’s in Ripley,” Mellinger said. “This means that no matter where they are, whether they’re in another part of the county or called out and need fuel, they have to travel to Ripley to fill up.”

Mellinger and Nuckles both pointed out that response time is affected by this limited option.

The Enterprise plan would provide a card that could be used at any Exxon station, no matter its location. There would be a 5 cent per gallon discount, which is less than the current plan, and all state taxes would be removed. The card could be used at non-Exxon stations, but the discount would not be available.

“The convenience and safety of being able to fuel up at multiple locations would be a tremendous advantage,” said Mellinger.

Aaron Martinez, a representative from Enterprise, explained to the commission that there would be no start-up costs and no contract or commitment to stay with the program.

“We can easily bill EMS and the sheriff’s department separately so that it’s easily tracked,” he said.

Commissioners expressed their approval for the plan.

“Once our county attorney reviews any documents, we’ll be ready to act,” Waybright said. “We’ll place it on the next agenda.”

In other business, commissioners:

  • Gave approval for 911 director Montana Boggess to prepare documents to bid for a replacement generator for the Ravenswood tower.
  • Heard from Boggess that the Ravenwood Tower has replaced everything affected by the lightning strike and sound is greatly improved.
  • Approved hiring part-time EMS worker, Katherine Harpold, effective immediately.
  • Authorized Waybright to execute the agreement for a records management grant for the circuit clerk’s office for $3,124 for FY 2021-22.
  • Approved contracts with ABS Electric for $1,500 for electrical work relocation and Neat Handyman Service for $3,190 for placing a new doorway and door in the circuit judge’s office.

The next meeting will be Wednesday, May 5, at 9:30 a.m. at the Jackson County courthouse.