By Jean A. Flanagan
“Over the past five years, the health of the Potomac River has been increasing. We wanted to acknowledge the efforts of the counties to clean up their sewer systems.”
Chad Thompson, stormwater specialist with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection brought good news to the Hardy County Commission during their first meeting of the new fiscal year. The commission met Wednesday, July 5.
Thompson presented two studies as evidence the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay are on the road to recovery.
The Potomac Report Card, produced by the Potomac Conservancy, gives the river a B-minus grade in overall health. “That’s a big improvement from the “C” grade it received in 2013 and the “D” grade in 2011,” Thompson said.
Commissioner William “JR” Keplinger asked about the impact of the George Washington National Forest. “How is that deterioration of organic material being considered?” he asked.
[private] “We consider that natural pollution,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to get back to that level. We take into account the amount of forested area and the amount of impervious surfaces.”
Thompson said Hampshire and Hardy counties have infinitely more forested area than Jefferson
County, which has more impervious surfaces.
The report on the health of the Chesapeake Bay was optimistic, but still at the “C” level.
Thompson pointed out that different criteria were used to determine the “grade” level of the Chesapeake.
While total dissolved oxygen and phosphorus indicators improved, nitrogen, water clarity, chlorophyll and aquatic grasses all declined.
“Overall Bay health shows no significant change over time (1986 – 2016), neither improving or declining,” the report said.
The Bay report card includes 15 regions, of which the Potomac River is one. Of the 15, only the Potomac, Rappahannock and James rivers have moderate ecosystem health, although all 15 have improved or had no change from the previous year.
“I’ve heard fishermen complain the water in the river is too clean,” said Fran Welton. “There are no catfish or crayfish.”
“There are no snails either,” echoed Mallie Combs, a resident of South Fork.
“It’s a delicate balance,” Thompson said. “Sometimes those are indicators of unhealthy water. As the water quality changes, the population of certain species changes. West Virginia DNR monitors those things.”
Welton also asked about the impact of jet exhaust pollution on the river.
Thompson said his expertise was water and there were others in WVDEP who could speak to that.
Thompson also said there were about a dozen grant opportunities available for community projects. He mentioned a project in another county which seeks to remove sediment that has collected in streams over the years.
Commission President Harold Michael asked if the demolition of an abandoned building in the flood plain would qualify. Thompson said it probably would.
County Coordinator Rose Helmick asked if hiking trails along a stream or the river would qualify.
“It depends on what you have in mind,” Thompson said. “Any grant would require a buffer must remain intact.”
Paul Lewis, director of the Hardy County Office of Emergency Management and 911 Center presented the monthly update.
Except for a little cleanup of the site, the Wardensville tower is complete and operational. “We need to do some retraining of fire volunteers, but our paging is better,” Lewis said.
“I will be looking along Route 259 for a location for that area. Once I get a location, I’ll work on getting a grant for another tower in that part of the county.”
There were 715 calls for service in June compared to 722 calls for service in May. The June calls were as follows:
Hardy County Sheriff’s Department had 313 calls for service.
Moorefield Police Department had 245 calls for service.
West Virginia State Police had 66 calls for service.
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources had 10 calls for service. *includes traffic stops.
Fraley Ambulance Service had 105 calls for service.
Hardy County Emergency Ambulance Authority had 59 calls for service.
Wardensville Volunteer Rescue Squad had 24 calls for service.
Fraley Ambulance assisted HCEAA with 2 calls and Wardensville assisted HCEAA with 5 calls. Lewis noted these were all in response to multiple calls for service at one time.
Moorefield Volunteer Fire Department had 17 calls for service.
Mathias/Baker Volunteer Fire Department had 12 calls for service.
Capon Valley Volunteer Fire Department had 8 calls for service.
In regard to the HCEAA, Lewis requested a $30,000 transfer of funds from the Ambulance Authority fee to the HCEAA. That request was approved.
Lewis also said the part time clerk for the authority would need a telephone extension to field calls since the next round of billing will be mailed shortly.
The commission opened a bid – the only one received – from J/S Electrical Service to replace three panel boxes in the courthouse. The cost is $36,500.
The commission received a grant from the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority for $100,000 to cover the costs.
“The extra funding will enable us to purchase a generator and wire it for the courthouse,” Michael said.
“We have to request a change in scope of the grant to include the generator,” Helmick said. “And Potomac Edison wants their equipment outside, so we’ll have to dig up the parking lot.”
It was discussed that Potomac Edison’s transformers are currently located in the basement of the courthouse and should be outside on a pole.
Commissioner Fansler requested the electrician be aware of the pending generator installation and coordinate his work with that in mind. “We don’t want to do something and later have to tear it up to put in the generator,” he said.
•The payroll register for June 1 – 15 was $69,777.55.
•The payroll register for June 16 – 30 was $68,041.87.
•The regional jail bill for May was $40,240.50.
•The county’s contribution to Farmland Preservation for May was $11,283.80.
•The county’s contribution to Farmland Preservation for June was $4,170.10.
•The commission approved a contract with Prestige Cleaning to clean ductwork, vents and returns in the courthouse. The contracted amount is $3,450.
•The commission approved the installation of a Automatic Teller Machine in the courthouse. The Moorefield Volunteer Fire Department will install and maintain the ATM.
“The court system requested it,” Keplinger said. “This way, it generates a little income for the fire department.”
•The commission approved a contract with Global Science to maintain the computers and network in the courthouse. The contract costs $912 per month, which is unchanged from last year.
•The commission voted to reappoint Brenda Peer to the Hardy County Health Department Board of Directors. Her new term will expire in 2022.
•The commission approved a resolution naming the Hardy County Rural Development Authority as the county’s representative for receipt of local economic development grants.
•There will be a special meeting of the Hardy County Commission on Tuesday, July 18 to review additional budget requests. The meeting will begin at 11 a.m.
•The next regular meeting of the Hardy County Commission will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 1, beginning at 9 a.m. Anyone wishing to be included on the agenda should contact the County Clerk’s office at 304-530-0250. The meetings are open to the public.