The Times West Virginian

February 3, 2014

Farmington reapplying to acquire water systems

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The Town of Farmington is beginning the process to reapply for a West Virginia Small Cities Block Grant in hopes of acquiring the water systems of Little Laurel Run and Lincoln Heights.

Farmington recently learned that — for the third time — it hadn’t been awarded the grant.

“I am disappointed,” Mayor Donna Costello said. “I wanted to get this started.”

The town will apply for the grant again, and the Region VI Planning and Development Council has begun the paperwork, she said.

Farmington buys its water from Monongah and resells to the residents of Little Laurel Run. Lincoln Heights is a resale customer of Little Laurel Run.

Costello explained that several years ago, the associations of Little Laurel Run and Lincoln Heights approached the town and asked if it would take over their water systems because they didn’t have enough people to keep up with their areas.

After a lot of debate, Farmington agreed and decided to move forward with the effort, she said. The Small Cities Block Grant was to be used by the town to acquire those two water systems and make the necessary repairs.

“When we decided that we would take this on, I made it clear that it could not be a financial burden to our residents, and this was the only way that we could take them on, if we were awarded monies from a Small Cities Block Grant,” Costello said.

She hopes to see success with the grant this time around.

During its meeting on Jan. 31, Farmington Town Council went into executive session to interview three applicants for an open town employee position. Council voted to hire James Keith Wright, who will do a little bit of everything, from fixing water leaks to mowing grass, Costello said.

She said Farmington’s staff also includes two workers who focus on the overall maintenance and upkeep of the town, a town clerk, one full-time police officer and one part-time police officer. Wright is expected to start his new job soon.

Costello reported that the council members expressed their appreciation to town employee Tyrone Akers and Chief of Police Andrew Schwartz for getting the streets cleared of snow as quickly as possible during the recent inclement weather.

The town provides this service as a courtesy to the residents so emergency vehicles can reach their destinations during wintry conditions, Costello said.

“We do not have a municipal surcharge,” she said. “The residents do not pay. The employees do not get paid extra. This is part of their job description. They do the best they can.”

Depending on the circumstances, the employees may treat the roads in the early morning hours, during the course of the day and late at night. While Farmington is the priority, they also take care of the roads in Idamay afterward, Costello said.

“We are trying to be good neighbors,” she said. “Small communities, we have to help each other.”

In other news, council voted to raise the community building rental fees by $25 per event.

The town charges different amounts based on the type of event held at the building, but found that it wasn’t breaking even with the rentals because of the rising cost of utilities and maintenance. The increased fee should help keep the community building competitive with other facilities, Costello said.

In addition, she reminded residents that Farmington is participating in the Times West Virginian’s Gift of Love Food Drive.

A container is available at the Town Hall for donations of nonperishables. Farmington will accept items until Feb. 13, and will then deliver all the collected goods to the Times on Feb. 14.

Also, council set the date for the town’s Easter Egg Hunt, which will take place Saturday, April 12.

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