GILBERT — The Gilbert Town Council met Monday evening and discussed the town’s ongoing water projects, as well as the possibility of expanding on them.
Randall Lewis, with E.L. Robinson Engineering, spoke to the council about the possibility of adding lines to cover Hanover, in nearby Logan County, and even as far as Wyoming County.
While still very early in talks and negotiation, the council was presented with a letter of support that they ultimately, after open deliberation, decided to back.
“We must have a good government to take care of this water system,” Mayor Vivian Livingood said during the meeting. “So many water plants are failing across America and here is our chance to give people water. It’s easier for Wyoming County to hook up to us than to start from scratch.”
The idea for the expansion stems from the town’s need for a water plant upgrade. Despite Gilbert already working on three water projects simultaneously — Horspen, Browning Fork and Gilbert Creek — not all of Gilbert Creek will be covered. There is a stopping point within that area, due to both a lack of funds and a water plant that simply could not sustain the necessary procedures.
As such, for Gilbert Creek’s stopping point to be lifted, the town’s water plant needs to be upgraded. If the town were to expand to other areas, such as Hanover or Wyoming County, it could apply for Abandoned Mine Land (AML) grants to pay for up to 50 percent of the funds necessary for the upgrade.
Councilwoman Sharon Murphy had some reservations about a new project, saying that she wondered if the town was currently stable with the current projects it had in progress. Lewis said that he understood that Gilbert and its surrounding areas were a first priority for the council.
Councilman Randy Livingood asked how the water would be sold to Wyoming County. Lewis answered that the town would sell to the Mingo County Public Service District, who would then sell to Wyoming County. In order for that to occur, bigger transmission lines would be necessary, which could benefit customers in the Justice area, though there was no guarantee that would be the case.
“We’re going to have to make sure this is good for everyone,” Mayor Livingood said.
She also said that the town project wasn’t going as far up the Gilbert Creek area as originally expected and that the town would have to begin issuing refunds to those who had already signed up and paid, as well as turn away potential customers who would have wanted to sign up.’
Councilman Livingood said that he had no problem with supporting the letter, since it didn’t mean the town was “going out on a limb for it.”
Glen Rutledge, the town’s attorney, said that merely offering support didn’t obligate the town, but instead allowed it to learn more about the proposition.
“This allows us to begin going to meetings and learning about it,” Mayor Livingood said. “We’re weighing our options to see if its a good deal for Gilbert.”
After the meeting, the mayor told the Daily News that extending water service farther into Gilbert Creek was her main priority.