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PSA finds use for leftover Fancy Gap funds

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Carroll Public Service Authority members decided to extend Fancy Gap water to three extra roads and buy a portable generator, pending Rural Development approval.
Armed with information about what the leftover funding from the water project could be spent on, the authority members considered the possibilities at the Jan. 13 meeting, after stating a preference at the December meeting to extend water lines to more customers, if possible.
County Administrator Gary Larrowe referred to a list of roads left off the original scope of the project.
He felt that the PSA could afford to expand the water to Chris Street, Devo Street and Foggy Ridge Lane, which are close to the heart of Fancy Gap, with the leftover funds.
The authority members considered other possibilities, but found there was too much distance to reach other roads affordably.
Beyond extending water service, the PSA also needs a portable generator to cope with problems. “During power outages... you never know what the weather is going to end up being,” Larrowe said.
A portable generator plus the extension to the three roads would probably take up all of the excess funds, he added. At the December meeting, the PSA said the funds totaled $249,000.
“The services that we provide are all dependent in one fashion or another on energy to operate equipment,” authority member David Hutchins reacted.
In certain emergencies like a storm, a lot of folks who rely on the authority would be affected.
“I think we seriously need to look at a generator,” was Hutchins’ conclusion, when making a motion to approve these items.
A portable generator could be used at any PSA system in the county, he added.
Authority member James Light believes that the reliability of public water would be a selling point for the PSA systems.
He just wanted to make sure that the extra funds were spent wisely
“Just want to make sure we spend it, you know, in the best places,” Light said.
The cost of a generator is a small amount compared to the scope of the whole Fancy Gap project, Larrowe said. “It’s not like you can end up running a lot of water lines.”
All the authority members approved the motion.
After the meeting, citizen Steve Gregson questioned why the PSA would take funds out of the Fancy Gap project for something to benefit the entire county.
(Gregson has objected to the authority using Fancy Gap funding to extend sewer service to Joy Ranch Road in the past.)
“I feel the grant dollars would be better used on adding additional customers and staying in good graces with Rural Development,” he told The Gazette via email.

Carroll PSA member hopeful about new year

Looking forward to a new year on the Carroll Public Service Authority, a member rung in 2014’s meetings by saying that he feels that everything’s positive with the county’s utility service.
Member James Light noted at the Jan. 13 PSA meeting that authority issues in 2013 occasionally met with some controversy.
That would include the authority having $267,000 clawed back by Rural Development after the federal funding agency determined the PSA “improperly” used Fancy Gap sewer funds to extend service to the Joy Ranch Road area.
In 2014, Light said he wants things to move forward. “I thought about not doing it again,” Light said about serving on the authority. “But then I deduced I’ll give it a try, because we do good work.”
Light, the Laurel Fork representative on the authority, said he never realized until joining the PSA how lucky his area of Carroll was to have good water, when other areas have it so rough.
Connecting people to water is part of that “good work,” he said, and that trumps the few “tarnished and ugly” incidents.
“When I sit back and look at it, I see no problems,” Light said. “I can say that from James Light’s point of view that everybody that’s had anything to do with it has done it correctly, morally and right...”
Light has shared this idea with citizen Steve Gregson, who questioned both the authority and the county supervisors several times in 2013. He was in attendance at the January meeting.
“I don’t see no problem with him [Gregson], I don’t see no problem with no one on this board,” Light continued. “You know, you got a question, ask it and we’ll try to get you an answer.”