The Times West Virginian

January 23, 2014

Monongah eyes phase two of water upgrade

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Monongah is trying to start phase two of its water system upgrade.

Mayor Greg Vandetta explained that the town is not bringing in as much money from water billing as it should because of leaks. Monongah needs to eliminate the water leaks in order to bring the system more under control.

He explained that the entire water system project probably began about 20 years ago when his dad, the late James Vandetta, was mayor of the town. The effort was divided into several phases and was awarded initial funding. However, because the endeavor got delayed several times over the years and prices escalated, the money didn’t end up going as far as Monongah hoped.

The first stage actually happened three or four years ago, and involved improvements to some of the water lines and the water plant. The town is now beginning the process to see what it needs to do to get the next step underway, Greg Vandetta said.

The original phases could possibly be re-evaluated. He is not sure what exactly will be in store for phase two, but it will continue to deal with upgrades to the water lines as well as the rebuilding of the storage tanks.

The town will have its water plant operator and superintendent address the needs with engineers and try to put forth a plan of action. The engineers will also look at possible funding sources, Vandetta said.

In other news, the Monongah Police Department is operating on a new schedule in order to make the officers more visible in the community.

Vandetta said the town currently has one full-time police officer — Police Chief Chris Veltri — and three part-time officers. Combined, they are on duty in Monongah about 70 hours a week, which includes covering the weekends as well as school zones four days in the morning and three days in the afternoon.

They work at times when they are most needed in the town. Those on-duty hours do not include times when the officers are on call, Vandetta said.

In addition, Vandetta said Monongah needs to somehow establish a blacktop road improvement fund. Currently, the money for roads and the police department both come out of the town’s general fund.

He said some roads in the town are in really bad shape and need work done to them.

Monongah charges a monthly police fee to its residents, but that’s not enough to cover the budget of the police department, which is about $72,000 a year. The mayor said he is totally against adding another fee for the people of Monongah in order to start a road fund.

The town may possibly have to cut back in the police department. During a future Marion County Mayors on the Move meeting, Vandetta would like to ask about ways to help small towns with police protection.

Also, at the beginning of the new year, the town installed a new furnace in its shop, which is located on the other side of the parking lot from the Town Hall. It was purchased through a West Virginia Participation Grant.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.