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Contracts approved for 3 water projects

The Letcher County Water and Sewer District has approved contracts for three major projects to provide treated water to rural Letcher County residents.

The Water and Sewer District’s Board of Directors said work on the projects should begin in a matter of weeks. The board voted unanimously its October meeting to approve a contract with Ronnie Mullins and Sons for the $214,832 Phase I of the Thornton Water Project. The board also voted unanimously to approve a contract with Stott’s Construction for the $175,051 project for Premium Phase I and a contract with Cumberland Pipeline for the $1,206,934 Red Star/Ulvah Water Project.

Board Chairman Phillip “Pee Wee” Back told the board that each contractor had been checked by Bell Engineering and all bids were found to be solid. Bell Engineering also reported on the progress of other projects in the works:

• Jamie Noe of Bell told the board that construction is ongoing on the Knott County Interconnect (KCI). The KCI work is also being done by Stott’s Construction of London, and will be finished soon.

• The Garner Mountain Project has been approved by the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) and can commence construction at the board’s directive.

• The Loggy Hollow Project at Dry Fork has also been approved by the DOW and will begin when funding is available.

• The Copperhead Road Water Line relocation at Craft’s Colly is currently being handled by Ronnie Mullins and Sons contractors who will begin work on the Thornton Project as soon as the relocation is complete.

• Abandoned Mine Lands has advised Bell Engineering that $3,000,000 will be available for the Pine Creek, Pert Creek, Cram Creek and Elk Creek, Bull Creek, and Carcassonne Water Projects in 2011 and project layouts are complete on the Millstone and Deane/Beaver Gap Water projects.

Benny Hamilton of the Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD), who is working with the board to manage project funding and grants, told the board the Appalachian Regional Commission dropped a grant for funding Phase II of the Premium/ Highway 160 Project, but added that it will be resubmitted before the deadline of November 1. Hamilton also told the board that coal severance tax funds in line items in the state budget will be administered through the Governor’s Office of Local Development and funding will be allocated by the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority. Hamilton reminded the board of debt service payments due to KIA in December and January and said he is looking for money within leftover grants and other funding sources to pay the bi-annual payments without taking money from project funding.

Joe Burns of Kentucky Rural Water (KRW) visited the meeting and told the board he is working with the Cities of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch on their water projects. Burns said the three Harlan County towns want to consolidate their water systems and eventually have interconnected lines. Burns said he believes this is the best solution and Cumberland and Lynch have already voted in favor of it. The Benham Council did not have a quorum for its scheduled meeting but met again this week. He said there are no objections on the Benham Council for the merger and that a combined board will be formed in December. Burns suggested the Letcher County District send representatives to the new board’s January meeting to discuss providing water to the Cumberland River area.

Burns also mentioned a report KRW had done for the district when Greg Pridemore had served as director. He said KRW made a number of suggestions to improve the efficiency of the system and asked to meet with the board soon to discuss the report. The board agreed to the meeting and also approved sending Superintendent Tim Reed to the KIA’s Utilities Management Program classes. Burns said the courses concern organization, laws, finances, personnel management, and other subjects important to municipal utilities. The board also voted to send Reed, secretary Tiff any Collins, and board member Bernard Watts to a Public Service Commission training session at General Butler State Park in November.

District Superintendent Tim Reed told the board the district has 1,875 active customers and district workers completed 65 work orders in September. He said he had attended a KRADD meeting earlier that day and said the district was on the top of KRADD’s list for allocation of funding when it comes through. Reed also said a district Jeep is “shot” and recommended the board look at purchasing a used vehicle to replace it. He said there is about $10,000 in discretionary funds which can be used for a replacement vehicle. Board Chair Back said the Jeep is not worth the approximately $2,500 county garage mechanics estimated it would take to repair it. Reed also told the board a backhoe needs to be replaced and that hand reading meters now takes 25 percent of his workforce for several days each month.

Benny Hamilton said that most grants do not offer discretionary funds for vehicle or equipment purchases and suggested the best way to get funding would be to have it placed in line item funding in the state budget. Reed said a radio meter reading system would cost about $200,000. The board directed Reed to look to replace the vehicle first and asked Tiff any Collins to look at software updates for the billing system as well.

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