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Service districts consider linking

May 29, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County's three public service districts will meet Tuesday to hash out a proposed conceptual plan that would interconnect them.

The Berkeley County Commission was quick to point out the countywide plan is not a consolidation.

"I want to emphasize that's not what this commission is pushing for," Commission President James Smith said Thursday. "Our main (concern) is if we don't find a way to provide water and sewer service to our customer base where we have allocated territory, then we can't complain a whole lot if somebody steps in and does it for us."

The county's public service districts want to get the plan to the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council before it meets June 22 because the City of Martinsburg also has a plan before the council for a water treatment expansion, said Jeff Keller, vice chairman of the Opequon Service District.

The council probably won't choose between the projects, but rather try to work with both.

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"Those projects are going to be sent to our consolidation committee," said Beth Hoover, administrative assistant for the Development Council. "They'll basically try to come up with the best plan for the city and the county, the most cost-effective and reasonable plan."

When the idea for a countywide conceptual water plan surfaced in March, the commission said it would include the city once a court case was settled. On Thursday, Smith said that is no longer a chief concern.

The City of Martinsburg was given water and service sewer rights for Martin's Landing, but two other public service districts claimed it was their territory. The state Public Service Commission ruled in the city's favor in 1997.

The other parties have appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Smith said the city's involvement in the countywide plan has not been ruled out.

"If the city wants to be a part of that plan in any way, shape or form, the door is wide open," Smith said.

Stephen Knipe, superintendent of the city's water and sewer department, said the upgrade of the water filtration plant is the department's primary concern. He couldn't say if the city would consider joining the county plan.

Richard Beegle, general manager of the Opequon Public Service District, said the county service districts will look at three things at Tuesday's meeting: Location of the water sources, location of the users and how to get the water from the source to the people.

"Who sells the water isn't an issue," Beegle said.

The public service districts of Berkeley County and Hedgesville, W.Va., also support the project.

"If you get past the turf issue, and go with the intention of serving people, I tell you there's enough work out there for everyone," Smith said.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Berkeley County Courthouse.

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