By Maralisa Marra
At last week’s Shinnston City Council meeting on June 13, City Manager Chad Edwards updated the council on the installation of the AMR water meters and the difficulties city officials say were caused by the company, Ferguson Waterworks, responsible for the installation.
Automatic meter reading sends water use data to a centralized database saving utility workers from making as many trips to each home.
Mayor Patrick Kovalck said that city workers fixed his leaking water meter, instead of the Ferguson workers he said were responsible for the job. Therefore, he expressed concern about how many hours a week city workers were spending remedying installation issues when they are not responsible for them.
“It has not been a very good process,” Edwards said. “I’m not happy with Ferguson, and I’ve not been happy since we started.”
Edwards said the company is tearing up citizens’ yards and neglecting to fix them.
He also said that the contract with Ferguson, of Columbus, Ohio, states that they are supposed to fix the yards after installation.
“So we signed a contract and that was pretty much the last I saw of them [Ferguson],” Edwards said. “They didn’t wait until the ink dried until they started going back on half of the stuff they promised.”
Shinnston city workers have taken on the majority of the responsibility of the installation of the AMR meters when the contract between the city and Ferguson indicates otherwise, city officials say.
Edwards said, “This is going to be a Trey situation probably,” referring to City Attorney Trey Simmerman.
Edwards added, in an interview later, that just two companies had bid on the meter installation, Ferguson and Citgo Water, after two other companies bid and withdrew due to their issues with parts of the contract.
He said he would be meeting with Ferguson officials to discuss the problem soon.
Edwards also told the council that Charleston company NAJ, LLC has bought another piece of property on Pike Street. Edwards said he had informed Simmerman of the matter.
In February, Edwards said the city planned to sue over an abandoned home burned by fire and owned by NAJ, LLC, located on Charles Street; in April, he said the company had offered to give the property to the city to avoid litigation.
However, in an interview earlier this week, Edwards said that the deal with NAJ was for them to give all of their properties to the city and stop buying them, as well, but a couple weeks ago, the city found out that NAJ bought another property in town, so “for right now, the lawsuit is on.”
Edwards informed the council that he attended a meeting at the American Legion Post 31 about Harrison County’s attempt to coordinate a suicide prevention effort for veterans. He is a part of the group and welcomed anyone to join in with the effort to support veterans.
Monroe Street and Norma Lane have already been paved, Edwards said, and he hopes to continue the rest of the paving by September.
The council approved and Kovalck signed a memorandum of understanding regarding a statewide opioid settlement with several companies and the state’s settlement with Endo Health Solutions.
“West Virginia will receive a $99 million settlement from Janssen Pharmaceuticals for the drug company’s role in West Virginia’s opioid epidemic as part of an ongoing trial,” according to WBOY.
The Endo Settlement refers to the $26 million settlement that West Virginia will receive from the opioid maker Endo Health Solutions, according to ABC News.
Shinnston will receive a portion of the funding.
In other matters, the current council members voted and approved the 2022 City Council election results to certify the new representatives of Shinnston’s four wards, W. Max Palmer representing Ward 1, Amanda Sayers in Ward 2, Pat Kovalck in Ward 3, and Julia Currey in Ward 4.