Preston officials plan Charleston visit to collect hurricane cleanup funds

KINGWOOD — Preston County is tired of waiting for reimbursement of 2012 expenses related to cleanup after Hurricane Sandy, so officials are going to Charleston to collect it.

After Sandy raged through Preston in October 2012, thousands were left without power for weeks and roads were blocked with trees and fallen utility lines.

The county commission paid local contractors $90,586.96 to clear the roads. So far, the commission has been reimbursed $67,940.22, though the state acknowledges another $22,611 is due the county.

“I believe we have waited very patiently for the rest of our money from Homeland Security,” County Administrator Kathy Mace told Commissioners Craig Jennings and Dave Price July 16. Commissioner Don Smith was not at the meeting.

“I know that the federal money is sitting there, because I jumped through all those hoops, I redid everything, and that guy assured me that it was,” Mace said. “So [County Emergency Management Director] Duane [Hamilton] and I are going to go to Charleston and make an official sit down meeting to get this resolved.”

She did not have a date for the meeting.

In May 2017, Jimmy Gianato, director and homeland security advisor with the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told The Dominion Post his staff, “anticipate that they will have everything done and FEMA can process the closeout in June.”

Later Mace was told the paperwork was lost, and she had to send all the documentation again.

In January, Mace told commissioners FEMA had approved the paperwork requesting reimbursement and sent it on to the state, which was to issue a check.

Mace said that, “$20,000 means a lot to us.” Price said perhaps the threat of going to Charleston spur action. “We jumped through their hoops many times,” Price said.

“This is money they told us we’d get back. It’s not like we’re asking for a grant,” Jennings said.

PSD 2

Also Monday, commissioners met with representatives of Public Service District No. 2 and the Kingwood Water Works about Kingwood’s acquisition of PSD 2, which has been in the works for more than three years.

Commissioners met in executive session with Prosecuting Attorney Melvin C. Snyder III before meeting with the water representatives.

Kingwood Water attorney Sheila Williams said the commission must approve the merger. Jennings said they had no opposition but asked that they and Snyder be provided with copies of the acquisition agreement before voting.

Jennings asked if former PSD 2 customers would be represented on the Kingwood Water Board? Williams said the city ordinance is being amended to allow this to occur.

“It is the desire of Kingwood Water Board, as well as has been expressed at city council, that they would like to see representation to that area on the water board,” Williams said.

Price said he thought the merger is “a valid and good ending.” Williams is to appear at next week’s commission meeting so it can vote on the merger.

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