Craigsville to Get Municipal Water by End of 2019

Project Engineer Michael Basista of Bankson Engineers (center) opens bids received on Monday night at the Worthington/West Franklin Joint Municipal Authority to extend water service to 55 customers in Craigsville. Authority board member Darrel Lewis (left), Solicitor Robert Cinpinski, and office secretary Christine Umbarger make computations while bids were read.

Residents living in the village of Craigsville will soon have city water.

The Worthington/West Franklin Joint Municipal Authority received 16 bids at Monday night’s meeting for construction of a water line that will extend service to the Craigsville community.

Water Plant Operator Dave Johns confirmed that the current water line has sufficient pressure to provide service to Craigsville without the use of an additional pump house.

Project Engineer Michael Basista of Bankson Engineers of Indianola, PA, explained the construction plan following the bid opening.

“It’s roughly 14,000 linear feet of eight-inch water line to provide public water service to approximately 55 customers. (It will go) from their water line out here on Main Street, across Buffalo Creek, out Craigsville Road, across several railroad tracks, across Buffalo Creek again, and continue on out Craigsville Road to the last house.

The Authority has been approved for a PennVest loan in the amount of $2.1 million. The construction cost estimate was $1.5 million.

Solicitor Robert Cinpinski said eight of the sixteen companies bidding the project were within the projected range of $1.5 million.  Bankson Engineers will now evaluate the bids and recommend to the Authority the lowest responsible bidder at the February 11th meeting.

Basista estimated the project would begin construction no later than May 1, with completion by the end of October.

Currently, customers in Worthington Borough and West Franklin Township are paying $22 per month for a base amount of 2,000 gallons of water. Basista said rates could change in order to repay the loan.

“Rates have been discussed but there hasn’t been a final determination made. PennVest has made the calculations and they will determine what the re-payment of the loan will be. PennVest has told us that it will be well within the ability of the customers to pay, according to their standards.”

Craigsville residents will be required to pay a $2,500 tap-in fee once the water line is installed. If a property has two dwellings, such as a house and a trailer, that property would have two separate tap-in fees. If a property has four apartments, there would be four tap-in fees required. Separate water service will be required for each separate unit/dwelling.

Basista said that the Craigsville taps consist mostly of single dwelling homes and a church with a parsonage.

Solicitor Cinpinski said payment of the tap-in fee is mandatory.

“There is a mandatory tap-in ordinance. In most instances, you are required to disconnect your well water for household purposes. They generally permit use of the well water for your garden or washing your car. But for internal household use, you have to connect to the municipal line.”

Basista said PennVest calculates loan repayment based on income from new and existing customers.

“The funding agency insist on the mandatory tap-in because if you do this project and have a loan re-payment plan based on 55 customers, and 47 say they aren’t going to tap-in, then you no longer have the financial income to pay the debt service on the loan. So that is why your funding agency requires it.”

At the present time, the Authority is not offering assistance to low to moderate income families who will experience hardship paying the tap-in fee.

“Normally the Authority in the past has looked for whatever alternatives exist,” Cinpinski said. “They will try to accommodate the customers. I am sure that if there is something out there and available, the Authority would cooperate with that.”

Board member Darrell K. Lewis said the Authority is hoping for county assistance in the matter.

“We don’t have anything structured at this point that is automatically aimed at certain residents. Most of those would be on an as-needed basis. We will be in touch with the Development folks at the County and see if there is a mechanism there that could help some customers cover that cost.”

Three residents were in attendance at Monday night’s meeting.

Craigsville resident Michael Bernard began coming to the meeting last month once he heard about that he would be required to tap in to the new water service.

“I am trying to find out more information because I wasn’t aware of this (project) until some stranger showed up at my house and wanted to get a right-of-way for a water line. I didn’t even know it was coming over here. That’s why I came to last month’s meeting and I came today – to find out more information about it.

Basista said that there have been multiple surveys sent out over the years for about a decade in addition to being discussed at monthly Authority meetings.

“There was a mail survey followed up by a door-to-door survey to determine who had a need and who wanted water. The need was based on quantity and quality issues,” Basista said.

“I have lived there for twelve years and I have never received anything in the mail,” Bernard replied.

West Franklin Resident Rod Claypoole and Craigsville Resident Ed Swigart were concerned about construction costs for new water service to Craigsville.

West Franklin Township resident Rod Claypoole already is a water customer. He also previously had served on the municipal authority board. However, he is concerned about water rates going up for repayment of the loan. He blamed the operation of the Snyder associated companies for creating water quality problems.

“We’re going to pay for water for all those people that Snyder’s should be paying for,” Claypoole said.

Craigsville resident Ed Swigart said that water issues at his house “got considerably worse after Snyder’s back-filled. They have been working with me trying to straighten it out.”

Claypoole alleged that the Snyder organization has been supplying drinking water to some homes for as long as five years.  He said he would like to see their company pay for a part of the new line to provide water service to Craigsville to offset construction costs.

Cinpinski responded to Claypoole’s claim.

“If you have an issue with the Snyders and maintaining you have backup documentation that they have done something that has caused the water to go wrong, then I would be more than happy to receive that from you. Then I think it is a situation where we would go to the appropriate person at Snyder’s. I’m sure they have people who handle those allegations.”

The Authority Board is made up of three persons appointed by Worthington Borough Council (Traci Beers, Marcia Long, and Dennis Shaffer) and three individuals appointed by the West Franklin Township supervisors (Cathy Bono, Delson “Doc” Johns, and Darrel K. Lewis).

Craigsville residents with questions may call the Authority office at 724-297-5630.

The Worthington/West Franklin Joint Municipal Authority board members are: (L-R) Darrel K. Lewis, Cathy Bono, Dennis Shaffer, Traci Beers, and President Marcia Long. (Delson “Doc” Johns was absent) Also pictured are Engineer Michael Basista and Solicitor Robert Cinpinski. Their next meeting will be February 11.