Kudos: City and County handle snows well

Thanks to Glenville Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick, Street Supervisor Stanley Starcher and County Road Supervisor Rodney Pettit for keeping up with the scraping and salting of the city streets and county's roads, respectively, following each one of the numerous snowfalls we citizens have experienced in recent weeks! Also, these local crews have had to work under very adverse conditions, in that our January temperatures were coming in at about 10-degrees lower than those of previous typical years, or a 27-degree average this year. Hence, their dedication and hard work - all at odd hours of the day and night - are much appreciated.

The cleaned off, salted and sanded city streets and county roads have made for safer travel for all Gilmer Countians who have to use these thoroughfares daily to get to work, school, the supermarket, doctors, tend to business or check on elderly relatives. We editors therefore are appreciative of the high priority given to the general motoring public's health and safety by both city and county officials.

They deserve even more praise, because the volume of snow has been so high during this winter. [The groundhog really knew his business on February 2, 2014 (Groundhog Day), when predicting six more weeks of winter weather. Both our Cow-toonist George Harper and this editor were proven absolutely wrong by the alert groundhog. We had felt that because so much snow had fallen, with an under layer of ice, that he wouldn't be able to exit his den to be frightened back down by his shadow. But, that's history now! Hopefully, next winter won't be so harsh and George and I will be right in our predictions.]

Making the streets and roads safe, however, isn't without its drawbacks, especially on the local governmental budgets. In a recent statewide newspaper report, it was estimated that some Mountain State cities have spent as much for snow and ice removal this year as they did in the previous two years. For example, the city of Charleston has already thrown out 4,000 tons of salt.

Additionally, the Dept. of Transportation has used about 160,000 tons, with the total state's consumption of salt usage at 260,000 tons. For this level of use, the cost has run about $42 million of the DOT's $55 million budget for snow removal. Local governments have likewise been adversely impacted by this unforeseen expense. Although much of that cost has been in the Northern Panhandle counties, the whole state has been covered with the record snows, icing, cold and flooding over the last month. The weather's great for the state's ski resorts, though, so we editors wish them well.

On the home front in central West Virginia and Gilmer County, we're just fortunate to have such good snow removal crews on the city and county levels. For this year, they have, indeed, been challenged, but they met these freezing and nasty weather conditions with much timeliness and success.

So, kudos to the Gilmer County Dept. of Highways and the city of Glenville's Street Dept. for jobs well done!

Relief - Local drinking water supply vowed to be safe

With the residents of Charleston and its surrounding counties being without clean water for about a two week period, due to a toxic chemical spill into the Elk River in early January, it raises the question: "Is our drinking water safe?"

The answer is: "Yes."

Moreover, could a chemical spill, like the Kanawha County one that endangered 300,000 people, happen here?

The answer is: "No.")

This reassuring information came from a page one article by Dave Corcoran Jr., our newspaper's general manager, in last week's Democrat/Pathfinder newspapers, after he interviewed an obliging and informative Glenville Utility's General Manager Freeman Nicholson. Indeed, the utility's chief assures the public that the possibility of a chemically tainted public drinking water disaster here is, indeed, remote.

First of all, the Glenville area has a million-gallon tank, which holds drinkable water good for a three days supply.

Secondly, the federal prison also has a separate million-gallon tank, thereby not needing to tap into the city's water supply in the case of an emergency.

Finally, if any toxic chemicals at plants either near or in far off areas were to leak and contaminate the Little Kanawha River, the Glenville water plant's intake unit in the river is capable of being shut off with the flick of a switch. Hence, Mr. Nicholson assures the county and city's water customers that the instant Glenville Utilities' officials hear of a dangerous chemical or other toxic substance leaking or spilling into the river, the local water plant will just stop pumping in water.

This fail safe system has worked okay and without danger to the public's drinking water during two past spills, he points out. In both cases, the incidents were promptly reported, so Glenville Utilities was able to take immediate steps to ensure that no contaminated water was allowed to enter the city's water system.

At the same time, the Charleston water tainting disaster has rightly sent ripples of caution and concern throughout the Mountain State in order to make sure that smaller communities don't suffer, like the 300,000 people without drinking water south of here, did. In fact, Mr. Nicholson already completes a state government form for this area's current "Source Water Protection Plan." It entails the watching over and testing of all waterways for plant spills. Nevertheless, in light of the Elk River/WV American Water Company incident, he believes that the current plan will certainly be updated, after the DEP and EPA finish their investigations of the Elk River disaster. Currently, Glenville Utilities works with an independent lab in Morgantown, as well as the WV State Health Department's lab, to monitor water quality monthly.

This Charleston incident gives more determination to Mr. Nicholson to work closely with the contractor for the upcoming $3.2 million Waterline Upgrade Project in Glenville, which is scheduled to start in the spring of this year. It will replace aging pipes and upgrade the local water system as a whole.

Due to the number of local citizens concerned about our water supply's safety, and who've questioned Mr. Nicholson about it, he is happy to assure the customers in Glenville and the Gilmer Public Service District that our water is safe. Because so much about the Charleston area's drinking water disaster has been in the state's news media of late, it's a relief to know that Gilmer County's public drinking water is still safe and healthful.