By Jean A. Flanagan
Traffic to and from the Robert C. Byrd Industrial Park will have a more direct route to Corridor H as soon as funding can be acquired.
This according to Mallie Combs, executive director of the Hardy County Rural Development Authority.
The RDA Board of Directors met on Thursday, Oct. 27.
A road from Robert C. Byrd Industrial Park Drive to Freedom Way, near the Moorefield National Guard Readiness Center, is being built by the RDA and will cost an estimated $2.5 million.
[private] “Information has been submitted to the West Virginia DOT (Department of Transportation),” Combs said. “If funding is approved, requests for bids will go out immediately.”
The board approved a resolution to submit a grant application for funding. The resolution must also be approved by the Hardy County Commission.
Water and Sewer
The RDA will connect sewer customers in the RCB Industrial Park, the Yellowbud community, the Hardy County Childcare Center and the Hardy County Division of Highways facility to the Moorefield/Hardy County Regional Sewer system, with construction beginning shortly.
“The West Virginia DEP has said that the package plant has to cease operations by the end of December,” Combs said. “We are hopeful we can meet that deadline.”
According to Combs, the contractor for the additional sewer lines and upgraded pump station is Scott Construction of Petersburg. The bid was $295,070.37.
“We have secured a $400,000 loan from Capon Valley Bank for the project,” Combs said. Fred Brooks, Senior Loan Officer at Capon Valley Bank is a member of the RDA Board of Directors.
Combs advised the board that new rates for sewer service based on the loan and operating costs would take effect Nov. 1, however, with connection to the regional sewer, users become customers of the town of Moorefield.
The package sewer treatment plant that has served the RCB Industrial Park users has been failing for a number of years. Last year the WVDEP found the RDA in violation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and fined the authority $15,000.
Also in 2015, the WVDEP deemed the 20,000 gallon-per-day package at capacity and said no additional industrial users would be approved.
Combs also advised the board, the RDA is working to develop new water rates for water customers in the Caledonia Heights community.
The RDA purchases water from the town of Moorefield and resells it to the residents of Caledonia Heights. “Our rates will be slightly higher than the town’s,” she said.
In September, the town of Moorefield was approved to charge residential customers $4.50 per 1,000 gallons for water per month.
Combs said the potential project in the Baker Industrial Park has submitted a request for rezoning.
CD DG Baker, LLC has submitted a request to rezone 1.2 acres from industrial usage to commercial usage, to allow “a retail establishment that will sell name-brand products such as housewares, family apparel, health and beauty items, cleaning supplies, food, snacks, etc.” The site is located next to Capon Valley Bank.
The public hearing for the rezoning request is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hardy County Planning Office.
RDA Board Vice President Derek Barr reported representatives with Hardy Telecommunications participated in a tour of Tucker, Grant, Hampshire and Hardy counties with Federal Communications Chair Tom Wheeler and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin III. The purpose of the tour was to emphasize the fact that high-speed internet access is critical to economic development in West Virginia and that some areas do not have that access.
“We started in Davis, along with other telecommunications companies,” Barr said. “We met at the armory and the (Hardy County) 911 Center. Hampshire County said they had fiber optics, but it was too expensive to use. Hardy Telecommunications provides wireless service to Hampshire County 911.”
The group also toured the Wardensville Garden Market. “They said their operation was only possible because of broadband,” Barr said. “Mr. Wheeler said Hardy Telecommunications was the poster child for universal broadband. He complimented Hardy Tele on being a company that used federal funding for the purpose in which in was intended.”
Barr said the WV Broadband Council had reformed with different people to address the issue of broadband access in remote areas of the state. “They want to talk with Hardy Telecommunications as a model of broadband,” he said.
Barr mentioned the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner. “There’s a situation where Hardy Telecommunications can’t compete with big media companies,” he said.
Because Verizon bought Direct TV last year, they are able to offer package deals combining telephone and television service with which a small company like Hardy Tele cannot compete. “I just worry that our options for media and telecommunications are becoming less and less as these companies merge,” he said.
There was a motion to write a letter to elected federal officials opposing the merger, stating the reasons.
“Pretty soon those companies are too big to fail and if they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” board member Harold Michael said.
American Woodmark Plant manager Paul Gall said, as of Jan. 1, 2017 the South Branch facility would be tobacco free.
“We have advised our employees not to go to neighboring properties to use tobacco products,” he said.
[/private] The next meeting of the Hardy County Rural Development Authority will be held on Jan. 12 2017 at 11 a.m.
There will be a Christmas Party for board members and their families on Monday, Dec. 12 beginning at 6 p.m.