The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered a suspension and deferment of a proposed increase in water rates and charges made in March by Ronceverte City Council. The PSC acted in response to a petition of protest signed by 25 percent of Ronceverte’s water customers. The suspension and deferment will be in place until August 19, unless otherwise ordered by the commission. In the meantime, an investigation into the case has been referred to the PSC’s Division of Administrative Law Judges, who must finalize a decision on the matter by July 20.

An evidentiary and public comment hearing on the case in accordance with the PSC has been set for June 22 at 1:30 p.m. in Ronceverte City Hall.

The ordinance in question, approved in a split decision, made on Mar. 7, would increase the city’s water rates by more than 76 percent over a five-year period. The rate hike is the product of a new law (SB234), passed last year by the West Virginia Legislature, requiring municipal water systems to set aside a reserve fund. With the passage of the vote, the monthly charge for the first 1,000 gallons will rise from the current rate of $15.38 to $21, which will go into effect in late April. Four more rate hikes will increase the minimum charge to $21 in 2017, to $27.50 in 2018, to $30 in 2019, and finally to $37 in fiscal year 2020.

During the Mar. 7 council meeting, Ronceverte resident Betty Waugh spoke for senior citizens living on fixed incomes who would face issues of affording the increase.

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Several commercial airline carriers are working on proposals in considering to provide service to this region of West Virginia, stated Greenbrier Valley Airport Manager Stephen Snyder, who announced a bid deadline extension to May 20, revealing that Silver Airways, the current carrier for the airport, is back in the mix. Other carriers interested in serving Greenbrier Valley in some capacity include, American Airlines, Sun Air and Via Air, he said. Most proposals include flights to Charlotte and the Baltimore/Washington, DC area. Other cities mentioned include Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Memphis.

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The Pepper Shed has relocated to North Jefferson Street with a wider selection of goods from hot peppers, to honey to doggie treats, said owners Denny and Jacqueline Brown. The new store, at the former Fortunate Finds location, is about three times the size of its former spot on North Court Street. The pair have stocked the shelves with more specialized items, including a large selection of doggie treats. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the new location is more convenient and has more parking for their customers.

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Two hikers were stranded in the Blue Bend Campground area near Frankford around 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, following heavy rains. First response teams from several agencies worked to rescue a man and a woman stranded near the Greenbrier River as of 5 a.m. on Monday. According to dispatchers, the Frankford Fire Department and the Lewisburg Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue Team were on the scene near the Anthony bridge in the Blue Bend area. A command post was set up and crews requested supplies to last through the night. The hikers were located and rescued, but because of the storms and high water, first responders were initially unable to get to them.

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Two people were injured Wednesday when a pickup truck collided with a log truck on I-64 West. According to Greenbrier County 911, Lewisburg and Fairlea fire departments and the Greenbrier County Emergency Ambulance were dispatched to the scene at mile marker 171 westbound. One victim was trapped inside the pickup, according to Lewisburg Fire Chief Wayne Pennington. The driver of the pickup was transported to Greenbrier Valley Medical Center and the passenger was flown from the scene by a HealthNet helicopter in critical condition. The driver of the log truck sustained only minor injuries.

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A collaborative effort among local, state and federal agencies, medical and educational staff, area businesses and volunteers culminated in a high tunnel offering students at Rainelle Elementary School a place to raise crops as an opportunity to understand the importance of healthy eating and how green vegetables are grown. The idea to bring a high tunnel to Rainelle began with Mary Surbaugh, CEO of Rainelle Medical Center (RMC).

High tunnels extend the growing season of certain crops, and are different from a traditional greenhouse, as they do not have heating or cooling systems. Plants are grown directly in the ground or in raised beds, with temperatures regulated by opening or closing the plastic curtains along the sides and doors on the ends. Rainelle’s 26-foot by 48-foot high tunnel will most likely use a drip irrigation system.

The collaborators involved in the project are: Rainelle Agricultural Learning Center, RMC, WVDA, GVDWVCA, Greenbrier County WVU Extension Office, Greenbrier County Board of Education, USDA, town of Rainelle, Meadow River Hardwoods, volunteers from Garden Construction and Mr. and Mrs. Gary Johnson.

 

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