By Peggy Mackenzie
With City Hall currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, the City of Ronceverte opted not to hold their monthly City Council meeting on the first Monday of the month as usual. City Manager Reba Mohler provided updates by phone on the City’s water project progress and 2020 Census counts so far in the area.
“We’re putting the pieces together,” Mohler said, regarding the progress of the water project even while The WV Public Service Commission has issued an Order delaying decisions due to COVID-19. “It was hoped the City would have all necessary permits and approvals and be able to advertise for bids on June 1, 2020. However, this will most likely be delayed due to extraordinary events beyond our control. Once construction begins, it is estimated to take one year to complete the project.”
Plans and Specifications have been submitted to the Health Department, she said, and comments have been received from the WV Division of Culture and History, Division of Natural Resources, the WV DEP, the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, and the Army Corps of Engineers. “We will continue to update the public on the project status,” Mohler said.
The goal of the project is to reduce unaccounted for water being lost to leaks throughout the water system. As of February 2020, Ronceverte water customers’ bills reflected an increase in their water rates as a necessity for the project’s success. Water usage could also increase due to the “Stay at Home” directives and more frequent hand washing, she said.
Regarding census rates in our area, gathered by 2020 Census Partnership Specialist Debbie Sizemore, the Greenbrier County self-response rate as of Apr. 6 is at 28.6 percent. Mohler said Ronceverte and Lewisburg have both shown “a good response” at 45.4 and 46 percent, notably better than the state-wide percentage which is currently sitting at 32.2.
Invitations to complete the 2020 Census began in mid-March. Residents with post office boxes will not be getting the Census questionnaire, Mohler said, and instead will soon be visited by census takers at their homes. The best way to avoid a visit from a census taker is to fill out the 2020 Census questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail. The Census Bureau does not disclose any personal information. Mohler suggests visiting 2020CENSUS.gov for more information.
Getting a complete and accurate census count is critically important and is required by law. The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for communities to fund hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources based on census data.
In other business:
• City Hall is currently closed to the public, but there are several options available to pay bills. Mohler asks that residents call City Hall at 304-647-5455 for more information.
• Even though Island Park’s playground and the basketball courts are closed to public use, the park itself is still open for walking about for the fresh air and exercise.