By Adam Pack
The Alderson Town Council met Thursday, June 9, to discuss the involvement of the Army Corps of Engineers in the town’s upcoming water line work. Mayor Travis Copenhaver explained, “It’s not a grant, it’s a reimbursement type payment of $1,000,000. To receive that money and the help of The Corps, Thrasher Group is going to pull out a portion of the project that would equal $1,000,000 and use that for the scope of what the Corps of Engineers is going to pay for.”
He said that there are some things that they need to look for, including endangered plants and animal species, as well as Native American artifacts. However, “One million dollars is one million dollars and we’re happy to get it.”
A representative from the Thrasher Group explained that this is “just kind of how the Corps works. When they find a client that’s willing to move forward and really wants the project to move forward they just show up and say ‘We’d like to be in on this project.’ Their getting involved won’t really make any difference on how the project runs, it just changes some front paperwork and structuring, so it’s a good thing.”
In further news, the first resolution in the upcoming work on the water plant project came before the council. The resolution deals with the construction of a new water plant for the town as well the infrastructure necessary for an alternative pump site. The alternative pump site would draw and treat water from Muddy Creek in the case of the severe contamination of the Greenbrier River, and the new water plant will raise the town’s water treatment capabilities above the floodplain, preventing the failure or contamination of the plant due to flooding.
After concerned questions from the public, the council assured citizens that the old water plant will remain in operation until the new plant is powered up, and the town plans for a “seamless transition,” according to Mayor Copenahver. After successfully transitioning the town to the water plant, the old plant will be completely demolished. The resolution was passed unanimously.
The town also reported better collections than estimated for Fiscal Year 2021, requiring a revision to the FY Budget. The revision came in the form of moving the windfall into street repair and maintenance. The council also discussed street closures for the Fourth of July Celebration. The event should take roughly an hour and half, according to Mayor Copenhaver. The closures necessary for the parade were also discussed, and all closures were authorized by unanimous vote of the council.
The council also moved to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Attorney General and signed a Letter of Election, respectively, in order to receive funds from the recent opioid settlement. The money available directly to municipalities amounts to nearly $5,000,000, though neither the mayor nor the council disclosed any potential amounts which the town may receive. The funding would primarily deal with opioid abatement and secondarily with opioid abatement and law enforcement funding. “It has to be used for opioid prevention, or programs for kids, something that is opioid related, and the letter of election states you will not sue the same company again,” Copenhaver explained. “However, multiple companies were involved in this suit and so more money will come as it’s coming from multiple sources.”
The signing on to the MOU and the Letter of Election were both approved unanimously by the council.
Lastly, in discussing items related to the Spring Street Project, Mayor Copenhaver also took the time to remind the public of the problem of throwing grass clippings onto the street. “We’re probably going to end up writing tickets about this so that people understand that one of the biggest problems we have is we have infrastructure consisting of six-inch pipes that are fluted, not the modern, large, smooth bore pipes. So when people blow their clippings out into the street, all they’re doing is clogging the old infrastructure. Citations have been going out, and they will be real ones if they don’t stop. People think the drains are just like the toilets, you can just flush whatever you want, but you can’t, and after we’ve spent $4.3 million to fix this we don’t want people doing this again.”