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Lack of Sewer System Plagues Pine Grove


The Wetzel Chronicle

PINE GROVE, W.Va. –Residents said Pine Grove has been without a functioning sewer system for about two months.

Residents vented frustrations during a Town Council meeting earlier this week. The town has suffered trial after trial for more than a month after a pump quit working on the its sewer system. Officials with Dominion Resources purchased a new pump for the town, but issues persist.

“This problem has been going on way too long. I can’t imagine another town going this long with raw sewage where it is running, where it is going,” resident Bernadette Kirk said. “It’s frustrating every day you have to deal with this.

“You know it is unsanitary. It is bad. It is just very unhealthy. It’s just been too long.”

Resident Robin Adams added that she asked town officials what she could do to help; however, she noted, this was the 60th day without sewage.

“I feel like I’m being put on the back-burner about my sewage. It’s been 60 days,”

Adams said a worker, from Hurricane, W.Va. had told a town employee to “fire my sewage pit.” Adams said the pit was not fired, and she still has sewage coming out of the pit.

Not all residents are as critical of the situation, however. Connie Nixon asked fellow residents to be understanding.

“We’ve had a flood. We’ve had high waters a few times. Give (council) a time to get stuff done. MarkWest (Energy) is helping, and Dominion. The town of Pine Grove is doing what they can do. Instead of bad mouthing them and everything, do what we can do to help.”

“I think it is time we stand up and work together as a town, instead of griping,” Nixon added.

Additionally, issues at the town’s water plant have resulted in water leaks, which have resulted in the town using water from Public Service District No. 1. Mayor Barbara King issued the “Local Water Rationing Plan,” per PSC water rule 4.14. Additionally, a boil water order has been in effect.

On Aug. 1, King announced that five members of Hurricane’s Mobile Infrastructure Response Team would work on Pine Grove’s sewer system. King said the National Guard recommended she contact Hurricane for assistance. King said the mayor of Hurricane refers to the crew as a “Dream Team.”

Additionally, King announced MarkWest has personnel assisting Pine Grove workers with “building controllers for our sewer pits and working at our water plant.”

During the public meeting, resident Darlene Cross said her daughter, who does not live in town limits, has been assisting with flood relief. Cross said her daughter has a garage filled with items that are accessible to flood victims.

“She was going to be at the meeting, but she was going to try to get food to a family of seven that lost everything they had. She’s trying to do a lot, but she’s completely worn out.”

“Just so you know, there are people trying to help people, but I’m sure there are people that could do more,” Cross said.

Gigi Barker said although she understands there was an unforeseen flood, the sewage issue “is very separate.”

“When we came to a council meeting two weeks ago, we were concerned about raw sewage and health concerns. This is raw sewage, and it stinks. I can’t have family over. I’m horrified.”

Barker is worried she would end up with sewage on the first floor of her home.

“There is help. It’s bigger than the town’s budget, bigger than you guys… it’s an old town, and it’s nobody’s fault, but we have to have help. I don’t care if we line up and go to Charleston. We can go to Charleston if that is what it takes.”

King and Councilwoman Cindy Figler said town leaders have spoken with state officials in Charleston regarding Pine Grove’s issues, but have not gotten much help so far.

“Then let’s go to Charleston,” Barker said.

“The National Guard was here. They had men help us. The governor’s office had somebody go back to help us, and there wasn’t anything else they could do,” Figler said.

King said council has been told there is no grant money available for Pine Grove’s sewer system. She expressed frustration with state and federal officials. She said these representatives say “We sympathize with you. We’ll write you a letter.”

“That’s all they do,” King added.

Town Attorney Gary Rymer was asked if he knew of where the town could turn to next.

“With water and sewage, you would have to talk to the governor’s office about some sort of emergency grant to at least identify the problems. We have a project going on, but it’s not going to solve these old vacuum systems,” he said.

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