Whitesburg KY

Veolia may be asked to run county water system

Changes are underway for the Letcher County Water and Sewer District even as ongoing construction projects add water lines on a daily basis.

At a special called meeting of the board of directors on Thursday evening, Board Chairman Phillip “Pee Wee” Back announced that Superintendent Tim Reed will step down from the superintendent’s position as soon as a suitable replacement is found. The board also spoke informally with representatives of Veolia Water about the possibility of Veolia taking over the dayto day management and operation. Veolia manages water and sewer works for the City of Whitesburg,

Back’s announcement about Reed came after a lengthy executive session. Reed left immediately after he spoke privately with the board and was not available for comment. Back’s statement was brief and gave no reason for Reed’s decision to step down. He made no comments about any board action.

“Tim (Reed) doesn’t want to be superintendent,” said Back. “He agreed to stay on as interim superintendent until we get somebody else.”

Board member Billy Stamper said the district needs help in the office in several other areas, but added that the first step has to be to hire a new superintendent. He said the board needs an administrator to fill in so the district stays in compliance with state and federal laws and with grant requirements.

Veolia did not appear on the agenda so the discussion with it was purely informal. County Attorney Jamie Hatton told the board it could discuss what Veolia could offer but could not negotiate or discuss figures. Back asked local manager Todd Adams and Chris Caudill to bring more information to the next meeting, and board members Bernard Watts and Richard Carter agreed to meet with Regional Manager John Stallard when he visits Whitesburg this week.

In response to Stamper’s comments about needing an administrator to stay in compliance, Adams responded, “That’s what we do with the City of Whitesburg. We have a project manager and he sees to it they stay in compliance.”

Adams told the board Veolia has 10 employees in Whitesburg and that four of them can perform any job necessary to operate in the district. He added that they have two full-time field workers, who are also certified operators. Stamper moved that the board go ahead and advertise for a superintendent until negotiations could be conducted, and Adams said that Veolia will be willing to help the board out whether the board engages Veolia to manage operations or not. Stamper’s motion was approved unanimously.

In other business, Steve Caudill of Bell Engineering reported on progress made in several active projects as well as those awaiting start dates. A final inspection of the Knott Country Interconnect was scheduled for this week with the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands and Caudill said he anticipates beginning the project closeout soon after the meeting. He said the district has received water from the Knott County Water District through the Interconnect since December.

Construction began on the Premium/ Highway 160 Water Improvement Project on February 8 and has concentrated along Beetree Branch Road. Construction continues and is now moving back toward Highway 15. The Thornton Water Improvement Project Phase I is now complete, having been finished on February 8. A change order was approved to extend Phase I construction to Gazelle Drive by using $300,000 in funding from Letcher County Fiscal Court.

Project construction on the Red Star/Ulvah and Hallie Water Improvement Project began on November 12, and the contractor is completing side hollow lines and laying line along Route 7. The project has fallen significantly behind schedule and a letter was sent by Bell Engineering reminding Cumberland Pipeline of potential penalties if the project does not finish in the allotted time. Penalties could run as much as $500 per day. Caudill told the board that Cumberland Pipeline has not provided Bell Engineering with the necessary information and company-wide decision makers have not been present at several progress meetings. Caudill said that 22 percent of the project is complete and 69 percent of the contract time has expired. He said three crews are now onsite and will remain until the project is complete.

Layouts for the Pine Creek, Pert Creek, Cram Creek and Elk Creek, Bull Creek, and Carcassonne Water Improvements Projects are complete and Abandoned Mine Lands has tentatively advised that $3 million will be available for construction in the summer. Caudill said the initial funds will pay for lines at Pine Creek, Cram Creek, and Pert Creek. Work on Bull Creek and Elk Creek will probably begin in the summer of 2012.

The project layout for the Millstone Water Improvement Project is now complete and coordination of a tank site with Nesbitt Engineering is ongoing. When a tank site is settled on, plans will be submitted to the Kentucky Department of Water (DOW). Project layout on the Deane/Beaver Gap Water Improvement Project is also complete and locations for a tank site and pump station are being finalized. Plans will then be submitted to DOW. Board Chairman Back told the board he has been contacted by a coal company in Deane that wants to extend lines from 400 to 500 feet onto its property to install a bathhouse.

County Attorney Hatton told the board he has an agreement from the City of Vicco to provide water for Letcher County homes very near to the Knott /Perry County line. Hatton said James River Coal Company has agreed to pay for the line and construction to install 3,000 feet of line and a tank and the customers will be turned over to Letcher County, which will purchase water from Vicco.

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