The standard procedure for snow and ice control of the roads maintained by the City of Elkins is to plow all streets and alleys and treat intersections, turns and hills with salt. The reasons why all street surfaces are not treated is both fiscal and environmental. As we work now, a treatment run takes around two hours and uses two to three tons of salt. In a normal winter, we use around one-hundred twenty-five tons of salt, costing $12 – $15,000, depending on salt prices. If we were to treat every foot of all streets we would have to put at least one additional truck on the road with a spreader, and our salt consumption would likely quadruple. Considering the manpower and salt, the cost of treating the streets, not including the larger effort of plowing, would quickly reach upwards of $100,000 annually. Further, the addition of this much salt to our sewer system would have a significant impact on our wastewater plant treatment process. In short, what we’re doing now is more environmentally friendly, cost effective and seems to work for the vast majority of folks who travel our streets.
Please be safe and curteous when traveling on any snow or ice affected roads. For information on state maintained roads throughout West Virginia, go to WV 511.
Message from Mayor Van T. Broughton concerning the Suddenlink office closure
December 28, 2017
Since the City first learned that Suddenlink intended to close its local office at the Tygart Valley Mall in Elkins, we have been working diligently to both prevent and then reverse that decision. I immediately sent a letter to Suddenlink requesting that they reconsider, and at the same time reached out to the law firm of Kay, Casto & Chaney, who aided in the drafting of the original franchise agreement, for advice on what the City could do. As you all know, the storefront closed on October 27, 2017, despite our pleas. Suddenlink did respond in writing to my initial letter with the reasons for their decision and have been open to communication throughout. However, after receiving numerous citizen complaints including during a public hearing held on November 2, 2017, council granted permission to Kay, Chaney & Casto to issue a Notice of Right to Cure to Suddenlink, believing that they had violated the franchise agreement signed in 2015 with the City. In early December we recently received a response from Altice, the parent company of Suddenlink, and were sorry to hear that they do not agree with our claims and have no intention of reestablishing an office in Elkins. In light of this response and taking into consideration that the only further action available to the City is litigation, we have decided to pursue this request no further. Thank you all for your time and attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at City Hall anytime.
It is the beginning of December and the holiday season is upon us. However, as a few of you have already noticed, the Christmas lights that have decorated our downtown streets in years past have yet to be put up. The unfortunate news is that they won’t be. The City purchased the homemade lights used downtown secondhand many years ago and through weather and use, they have deteriorated to a point beyond repair. A number of the lights don’t work at all, and those that do light, do not have working timers requiring them to burn continuously using significant energy and money. The City knew this day would come and had hoped to purchase new lights before the old ones were no longer useful, however there was never enough room for this significant cost in the budget. Our intention moving forward is to join with local organizations and property owners to formulate a plan for 2018, so that we may light the City for the holidays once again. In the meantime, we are thankful to have the lighted baskets down Davis Ave. and Third St., businesses with beautiful window and storefront displays throughout the downtown, and the Christmas light display in the Railyard.
Happy Holidays to you all,
Mayor Van Broughton
The City of Elkins has heard several concerns from local residents about receiving phone calls attempting to solicit information or sell products from the City Hall phone number, 304-636-1414.
City officials would like to caution residents that these calls are not coming from the City of Elkins, but from telemarketing companies or individuals that have the means to use a local phone number for display on your caller ID.
Legitimate calls from City Hall will only be made by employees able to provide their name and position and for City business only. At no time will a city employee ask for private financial information from a customer.
Stop by the Elkins YMCA lobby on Monday, November 13th to learn about City revenues, the proposed 1% municipal sales tax, and to let the City know how you would prioritize spending any additional revenues. The event is open from 4pm to 7pm for City residents, property owners, business owners, representatives of local service organizations, and any other individual(s) with a vested interest in the furture of Elkins.
Elkins City Council is hosting a public hearing on Thursday, November 2nd at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall to both inform citizens of actions already taken by the City in response to Suddenlink’s closure of their Elkins office, and to solicit citizens’ interest in the City taking further action to try and reverse this closure. If you wish to comment you must appear in person at the public hearing or submit a statement in writing to the Elkins City Clerk at 401 Davis Ave. or email@example.com. Comments posted on this website or the City’s Facebook page will neither be responded to nor included in the permanent record made of the public hearing.
Elkins residential trick or treat will be held on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Crews will be repairing a water line on North Washington Avenue beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 26th. Flagging will take place to direct a one lane alternating traffic pattern on Harrison Avenue. Drivers are advised to choose an alternate route to avoid delays.
The increase pays for the $37 million Water System Improvement Project.
City of Elkins water customers will see sizable rate increases in their bills due December 19. Here’s why: The city is commencing debt service on the $37 million package of loans and bonds that funded the new water-treatment plant, pumping station, reservoir, and other critical improvements to the Elkins water system. The new water-treatment plant is anticipated to go into service in December.
[Related: 2017 Water Rate Increase FAQ]
The New Rates
This rate increase is the second of two approved by Elkins Common Council in 2015. The first increase, which went into effect in 2015, covered the increased cost of ongoing operations. The increase that will be seen on bills due December 19 covers the cost of the Elkins Water System Improvement Project and was a loan condition imposed by the project’s funders, according to Bob Pingley, the operations manager for the City of Elkins.
“Just like individuals applying for mortgages have to prove they have the income to make repayment, we had to commit to raising our water rates enough to cover our monthly payments before we could access project funds,” Pingley says, going on to explain that the sole purpose of this increase is to cover the almost $116,000 monthly payments that the city will have to make until 2055. West Virginia law requires that municipal water utilities be run like independent businesses, with no income other than customer payments.
Under the new rates, the cost for customers’ first 2,000 gallons will rise from $10 to $15.25 per 1,000 gallons, a 52.5 percent increase, and the cost for customers’ next 3,000 gallons will rise from $5.49 to $8.50 per 1,000 gallons, a 54.83 percent increase. The full text of the water-rate ordinance, including other rate changes, may be reviewed online here.
Just in Time
The city’s new water plant marks a big step forward from the old plant, which has been in service since 1921. “The people who built our old plant almost a century ago did great work,” says Pingley. “But everything has a lifespan, and the old plant has gotten to a point where we can’t prudently rely on it much longer.”
One of the most crucial capabilities of the new water-treatment plant is that it is equipped with backup generators, which the old plant has always lacked because of the nonstandard design of its 1920s-era electrical system. Lack of backup power isn’t a problem when power outages are brief, but there have been times in the city’s recent history when longer power outages have come close to draining city reservoirs, such as during Hurricane Sandy.
“During the Hurricane Sandy power outage, we got to within about 5 hours of running our reservoir dry,” says Pingley, who points out that—although Elkins can supply backup water to neighboring utilities if their plants break down—no neighboring utility can generate enough water to supply both its own customers and Elkins. “Until the new plant comes on line, if a power outage lasts long enough, Elkins could simply run out of water.”
The effects of losing city water range from inconvenient to grim to terrifying. Conditions in homes would quickly become unsanitary; schools and businesses would close; hospitals and other care facilities would have to limit services and evacuate patients; and dry hydrants and sprinkler systems would make it difficult or impossible to fight fires.
“Everyone at the City of Elkins is going to heave a huge sigh of relief once we shift to the new plant,” says Pingley.
A New Plant for a New Century
The new plant can produce 4,000 gallons of clean drinking water per minute, compared to the old plant’s 3,800. The new plant also provides a positive barrier against waterborne viruses by using filtration membranes, which are replaceable and so can be upgraded as filtration technology advances. A new 3-million-gallon, pre-stressed-concrete reservoir tank, which replaces the welded-steel Crystal Springs and McQuain Road tanks, has also been constructed next to the new plant atop Reservoir Hill in the city’s Wees District.
Because of the hilltop location of both the new plant and the new reservoir, the city’s water distribution system will be entirely gravity-fed for the first time, which Pingley says offers additional customer benefits.
“A gravity-fed distribution system eliminates fluctuations in water pressure, makes the system less vulnerable to shocks from power surges and restarting the pump after power outages, and simplifies flushing lines,” says Pingley. “That should translate to fewer water-main breaks and other service disruptions, less sediment at the tap, and decreased stress on appliances and fixtures.”
More Than Just a New Water Plant
Pingley emphasizes that this isn’t a “water-plant project,” it’s a “water-system improvement project.” In other words, that $37 million price tag is buying Elkins a lot more than a twenty-first-century, state-of-the-art water plant and a new, highly durable reservoir tank. Other water-system improvements include the installation of 43,540 feet of new water lines; the removal of many old, deteriorated sections of pipe; 41 new fire hydrants; and a new pumping station with backup generators and new intakes and raw-water pumps.
“I know no one is happy about this big jump in water rates, but I want everyone to understand how much value we are getting for the money,” says Pingley, who explains that the city’s new water rates are similar to those charged by other West Virginia cities that have also recently completed large water infrastructure projects. “After this project, Elkins will have a much more robust, redundant, reliable water system, which I know everyone wants—not just for ourselves, today, but also for the future generations who will live and work in Elkins. These new rates are simply what it costs to achieve that.”