By Adam Pack
The Alderson Town Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, May 11 to discuss an opportunity to acquire novel equipment to deal with a rather universal problem. The meeting began however, with some regrettable news. Long time servant of Alderson and Councilman Todd Hangar was forced to tender his resignation, effective immediately, due to declining health. For several decades Hangar has served the town in a multitude of positions. The council, saddened to see Hangar’s public service come to an end, accepted his resignation. Due to the immediate nature of Hangar’s resignation, his replacement was sworn in at the meeting as well. Described as a “very involved and conscientious citizen,” Larry Reinhold stood, took his oath, and sat for his first meeting of the Alderson Town Council.
The council also honored the coaches of the Alderson Elementary Archery team, who traveled to the national youth archery tournament on Friday, May 12. In a proclamation read before the public, coaches Alicia Utterback and Jason Ward were afforded the city’s “most sincere and humble thanks” for “doing extra work that goes above and beyond the normal scope of an educator’s role” in their work with the children of the school’s archery team. Mayor Travis Copenhaver also pointed out that this team and these kids will be a part of history, having achieved this accomplishment in the twilight of the old elementary school’s lifespan, and carrying this accomplishment into the new building, adding his most sincere thanks and pride for the work that these two dedicated servants do.
The council also took time out to hear a presentation from Ron Newhouse of Kappy & Associates Inc. Newhouse provided the council with requested information on Duperon’s Auger System, a proprietary piece of equipment designed to eliminate the issues created by the use of so-called “flushable wipes.” These wipes, in common usage across America, do not behave like normal toilet tissue in wastewater treatment systems, and never break down the way paper does. This causes massive clogs, stoppages, and damage to wastewater treatment equipment. Virtually every wastewater and sewer department in the country has to deal with this issue in some way, with most using a machine with opposing sets of rotating blades to eviscerate flushable wipes into smaller pieces. Others have simply installed cages into their pipeworks to catch these “rags” (as they are referred to in wastewater treatment parlance), where they can then be physically removed. Both of these methods are costly, dangerous, inefficient, and require a great deal of manhours.
What Newhouse and KAI brought before the council is a system developed by one of their client factories in Saginaw, MI which puts rags through an automated five step process which ultimately dries and bags the rags safely above ground, where a wastewater employee can quickly and easily remove a bag to be carried off to be disposed of. Newhouse claimed that this system “addresses the underlying problem of flushable wipe buildup, instead of just making them smaller like a bladed system might. On top of that, the bladed systems have a great deal of recurring expense, with blade rebuilds being necessary after only a short time and costing up to $30,000 each time.” Newhouse and KAI claimed that this system would provide the town with a return on investment, as it would be able to avoid such expensive recurring costs.
While a basic budgetary price of $90,000 was provided to the town at an earlier date, extensive redesign had to be done to the system due to the town’s unique issues with flooding. Engineers at Duperon worked very hard and in ways that they had never expected, as Newhosue recalled that his contacts in Saginaw initially believed they’d be dealing with “about six, maybe eight inches of water at maximum; when I told them what you guys [Alderson] usually get, they were shocked, and I even had to send them pictures of some of the ways you have to build things here to deal with your very particular flooding issues.” Despite the difficult engineering and design task that Duperon undertook to make their Auger System fit Alderson, Newhouse worked very hard with his counterparts at Duperon to, “keep it as close to that $90,000 as I could,” and the new cost after the aforementioned amendments, brings the total to $98,000. Newhouse relayed that this system could be used for advertising purposes due to the difficulty and care that was taken in its design, and that “We [Kappy & Associates/Duperon] might even send people from other municipalities here to show them one, what exactly the system does in real time, and two, what the folks in Saginaw can do in terms of custom work to fit the needs of other towns and cities.”
After hearing Newhouse’s pitch, the town council moved to table discussion on the purchase of Duperon’s Auger System. The town would like to secure legal certification of the system’s proprietary nature, i.e. patent filings. Governmental organizations like municipalities in West Virginia must, by law, open up any contracted work to a bidding process, giving area contractors a fair and equal chance to bid for a project. However an exception exists for work that is proprietary. The details of the deal must also be reviewed further by the city’s legal counsel.
In other news, the city’s new water treatment plant is currently in the final stages of design. A representative of The Thrasher Group was on hand at Thursday’s meeting to once again remind the public that this facility will not clash in any way with the residential area it will be constructed in. He even added that extra effort has been taken to put main pumps inside structures with thicker walls and added insulation to reduce noise, and is overall aesthetically minded in every aspect of design. The final designs will be displayed publicly to the council at the June 10 regular meeting.
The town also voted to name Travis Copenhaver as the administrator of upcoming water projects. This designation is both to establish dedicated management and administrative authority over the project, as well as save money on hiring an outside source for said services. The job of project administrator would come with a $1,000/mo pay and see the mayor working with engineers, contractors, and city employees as water projects slated to go out to work in 2023. The town also authorized the financing of a new water treatment department vehicle through Country Roads Leasing. The vehicle will be purchased from Greenbrier Motors and financed at a rate of 5.75% over three years. The town is putting up half the cost, with ARPA funds covering the other half; the cost to the city will be $33,708.
The Alderson Town Council meets on the second Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the Alderson City Hall Building. The public is encouraged to attend. Interested parties should call ahead to confirm time and date of meeting at 304-445-2916, as times and dates of meetings are subject to change.
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