Proposed improvements and funding for Ronceverte’s sewer lines discussed at public meeting

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By Peggy Mackenzie

The monthly Ronceverte City Council meeting was preceded last Monday by a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. for a discussion on the proposed improvements to the sewage collection system.

The meeting took place at Ronceverte City Hall and was attended by Dunn Engineering consultants Fred Hypes and Eric Hartwell in addition to several members of the council and City Manager Reba Mohler.

“Much of the system,” Hypes said, “…was built over 100 years ago.” There’s a lot of wear and fragility with the clay pipes in use at that time, which encouraged clogging and conversely, water leakage, he said.

This phase of the project is expected to cost approximately $4.5 million. The improvements are anticipated to be funded by a combination of grant and loan funds that will be provided by the WV Department of Environmental Protection Clean Water Revolving Fund, the USDA-Rural Development, HUD-Small Cities Block Grant and/or the WV Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council.

“Because of where your rates are, the funding sources we would normally recommend looking at would be a debt forgivable loan from the DEP of $1 million, a $1 million grant from the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council and then an application for grant and a little bit of loan funding through USDA,” Hypes said. If the grant funding comes through as expected, a majority of the project would be funded and any increase to sewer rates would be limited. The council and Mayor David Smith indicated they would be in favor of the funding arrangements, giving Hypes and Hartwell a tentative go-ahead, pending formal approval at the next council meeting.

A map of the city’s streets demonstrated where the city’s most damaged sewage lines are located. Ronceverte is divided into upper, main and lower sections. The primary areas for replacement are situated in lower Ronceverte, or that portion of the town that’s commonly referred to as “the flood zone.” Repeated river flooding over the years has left lower Ronceverte vulnerable to river water infusion and backed up sewage lines. Upper Ronceverte, while newer, is also scheduled for sewage line replacement and will include about 65 manhole access points this time around.

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In other business, the city council agenda included a first reading to consider annexation of 6.332 acres located behind the Ronceverte Elementary School. The property owner approached the city requesting annexation to bring the property into city limits and to provide access from Dawkins Lane onto Davis Stuart Road. A second reading and public hearing will be held at the Jan. 6, 2020 council meeting.

Council also approved a first reading to consider adopting changes to Chapters 3 and 5 of the state code for the municipality to comply with state, federal and building regulations. The second reading and public hearing will also be held at the January meeting.