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HILLSVILLE — The new natural gas pipeline manager and utility specialist made his second appearance before the Carroll Industrial Development Authority on his first day on the job May 6.
The first occasion that Earl Hagee spoke to the IDA occurred back in the fall when he was still an employee of MasTec, the company that won the contract to install the pipeline to serve Mohawk as a job retention effort.
After about an hour of closed session discussion on Monday, a variety of updates on the continuing effort to get Carroll County’s new natural gas utility service dominated the open session of the meeting. Read more HERE.
When it came time for Hagee to update the IDA on the line progress, he estimated that the gas would be flowing within a few weeks.
County Administrator Gary Larrowe took the opportunity to discuss Hagee’s experience in the utilities industry.
“He’s a wealth of knowledge in all kinds of utilities above ground and underground and actually has worked on this pipeline with the contractor,” the administrator explained. “And we were able to finagle him away from them to come and help.”
Hagee is already “operator qualified” for many of the duties that will now fall to him in connection with the gas service and had several other training courses.
He also has the advantage of being “adept with knowledge of the State Corporation Commission,” the overseeing agency for utilities in Virginia.
“So, we feel as if we hit a home run in having Earl come on as an employee and help and get this project even more fruitful than what it will be with Mohawk,” Larrowe continued.
Hagee lives nearby in Pulaski, and Larrowe indicated that county officials felt lucky to find someone so knowledgeable in an adjoining community.
“No one around here really knows anything about natural gas, so to be able to get someone that close who knows about it and [can] teach us and we can learn from and everything is very progressive, I think,” the county administrator said.
Larrowe asked the IDA to approve a fourth modification to the contract with Roanoke Gas, the utility company that provided a feasibility study and technical assistance to make the county’s gas service a reality.
The county administrator explained that Roanoke Gas handled much of the purchasing of materials and supplies for the line that amounted to about $81,000.
Roanoke Gas also experienced another $42,000 in labor costs because the construction of the line has taken longer than originally hoped, he said.
Larrowe saying costs were not expected to exceed $225,000 with the consultant, as the project will soon wrap up.
“This is just to keep the paperwork and audit trails going so we can end up making sure that everyone is covered between Roanoke Gas and the IDA,” he said.
Larrowe told the authority members that he had already asked the chairman to sign the needed documentation.
“If you don’t want it signed we can tear it up,” he said.
The authority members unanimously approved a motion by Clinton Willie to make the necessary contract modification.
The county administrator also recalled the $1.75 million in funding that the board of supervisors made available for IDA projects for the gas line, as well as buying the two former Kentucky Derby Hosiery plants in the industrial park. Read more HERE.
The supervisors approved those funds in order to help with the IDA’s cash flow.
“What has happened was we did not take all that money to start with. We took $1.5 million out the $1.75 and ended up paying off the buildings,” Larrowe said. “And then we used that as some operating money for the IDA during the time that we’ve been putting in the gas line ...”
The leftover cash, $250,000, has been transferred to the IDA.
That “is to help cover the cash flow differences. What will take place is, once the gas line construction is finished, then we can invoice Mohawk for the last installment of their money and replace part of that...” Larrowe said. “You’ve got to have enough in your checking account to cover your bills.”
A recent natural gas meeting reached out to those who live on the gas line route. Read more HERE.
Sharing safety information is critical to avoiding rupturing the line, Larrowe indicated.
Both Carroll County and Hillsville officials will need to stress the importance of watching over the integrity of the utility line.
That includes public water and sewer work and activities of private citizens along the natural gas route.
“That is really necessary now,” the county administrator said. “If you hit a water line, water just squirts, if you hit a sewer line, guess what? You just get covered up with something that smells bad.
“If you hit a gas line, you could end up having some serious issues,” he continued. “We have got to maintain the integrity of the line...”
Both Hagee and Preston Hill of the Carroll Public Service Authority will watch over those matters for the county, Larrowe noted.
“Also, even during the flea market, with people driving tent stakes, it’s something to think about,” Larrowe said.
“We never had an issue with something like that before, but this time, we’re going to have to work with the town about marking” where those stakes can go.
Anyone considering doing any kind of work around the gas line should call the Miss Utility hotline at 811 and give them 72 hours to make the markings on the ground, Hagee said.
With the flea market coming up, Hagee will go house to house and talk to people about the importance of avoiding any problems associated with the gas line, Larrowe said.