By Debbie Rolen
Larry Stevens addressed the Mingo County Commission, asking for water service to be extended to his home at Verner.
Stevens told the commission he was asking on behalf of the Riverbend community at Verner if there was any possible way for water service to be extended to 35 homes and a church.
Water service from both Mingo and Logan counties stops within half a mile in either direction of this location.
Mingo County Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith told Stevens he would have J.B. Heflin, director of the Mingo County Public Service District, study the situation and see what the possibilities are.
“Sometimes we have been able to extend water lines ‘in house.’ If you put a project out to bid, because of the cost, you can’t get a grant to service that many homes. If you do it ‘in house,’ with your labor, you don’t have the issue of prevailing wages,” Smith said. “That is actually what we are looking at doing for the town of Gilbert. The homes on the other side of the Harless Center there don’t have water. We are looking at running it along the road there at Sprattsville down to those homes
I’ll be glad to get J.B. to come and look at it — I will even come with him — then he can make a recommendation,” Smith said.
Commissioner John Mark Hubbard said, “One of the keys to this would be whether each of the 35 families would be willing to sign a usage agreement to take the water.”
Stevens responded and said, “Seven of the homes are my family. I know they would. I don’t know about the others.”
Smith said Hubbard made a good point,
“Before doing any of the projects in-house, we have a user agreement we ask the residents to sign, committing they will sign up and use the water,” he said.
Stevens said he would be happy to check with the residents and see if they would sign a user agreement. He was provided with a copy of the user agreement to review and show the residents.
The user agreement states that residents will agree to use the water for the minimum amount over a period of three years. The minimum charge is about $20 per month.
Attorney Glenn Rutledge asked if Stevens had approached the town of Gilbert to ask for help.
“E.L. Robinson attends the [town of Gilbert] meetings and they have one on Monday, Feb. 10. They could help or give you an idea of whether it is going to be feasible or not,” Rutledge said.
Smith expressed concern about the issue of taking the line across the river. That may pose a problem and be very costly.
Stevens said water lines from both Logan and Mingo County had come across the river at some point.
Smith added, “When they are picking up a lot of people and they get those user agreements signed, sometimes they can get one of those small city block grants. When you are dealing with a lot of homes — 35 homes is a lot to us — but not to some people.”
Stevens told the commission the Logan County water stops very near the end of his driveway. He said the water in the river is very low at that point and would be easy to cross.
Smith said he would contact Heflin and try to visit by the end of the week and asked that Stevens contact residents about signing the user agreement.