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Water line projects move forward in Putnam

By Kara Moore

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Water line extension projects in three outlying Putnam County neighborhoods took a tentative step forward Tuesday.

At least 80 percent of residents in Custer Ridge near Buffalo, Trace Fork/Mud River near Culloden, and Sigmon Fork near Red House have said they will take city water if lines are extended to their areas.

That's the threshold West Virginia American Water needs to make water line extensions financially viable, so those three projects can now move into the next phase.

The county has a list of at least a dozen other water line extension requests to consider. The commission considers a combination of factors when choosing which projects to pursue, including cost per customer.

A fourth neighborhood, Painter's Creek, was on the short list of this round of extensions, but only seven of 12 residents signed on, falling short of the required 80 percent.

In Custer Ridge, 20 of 22 residents signed on, Trace Fork/Mud River had 20 of 21, and Sigmon Fork had six of eight.

The cost will be $771,155 for Custer Ridge, $766,051 for Trace Fork/Mud River, and $300,025 for Sigmon Fork.

Funding would come through low-interest loans and, the county hopes, contributions from West Virginia American Water.

The water company withdrew from some water line-extension projects to which it had made commitments last year, including one in Putnam County. 

At the time, spokeswoman Laura Jordan said the utility had to withdraw from some projects because it had less funding available for public-private ventures but that she expected more funding to be available in the future.

Putnam will ask the utility for $50,600 for Custer Ridge, $48,300 for Trace Fork/Mud River, and $18,400 for Sigmon Fork. Donat said he's optimistic after preliminary talks with the company.

The county would likely fund the remainder through low-interest loans. The West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council serves as a clearing house for water line-extension projects and will direct the county to appropriate loan programs.

Donat said the next step is to begin assembling the team of people who will work on funding applications and submit designs for review. The county didn't take any official action, but directed Donat to begin that process.

"Let's be proactive," Commissioner Joe Haynes said.

In other business, Donat told the commission that businesses in Putnam County are eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration in the wake of last summer's derecho.

The loans are meant to "help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster." Businesses are eligible whether or not they suffered physical damage during the storm.

For more information, visit http://disasterloan.sba.gov.

Finally, the commission approved a resolution for Veteran's Appreciation Day. The county's fifth annual Veteran's Appreciation ceremony will be 2 p.m. Nov. 4 at the courthouse in Winfield. The Putnam County Commission meets at 9 a.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the county courthouse. All meetings are open to the public.


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