Mail merge

Mid-Clarke Water votes to merge with Grove Hill system

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Third time was the charm as opposed to three strikes and you’re out.

Sixty-eight members of the Mid-Clarke Water Authority voted on Tuesday to merge with the Grove Hill Utilities Department, allowing Grove Hill to supply water and maintain the system. Sixteen voted no. A two-thirds vote of the members present was required for passage.

The meeting took place at The Event Room on the south side of Grove Hill.

The merger has already been attempted twice. The last vote failed by four votes.

Byron Carlisle, Chairman of Mid-Clarke’s Board of Directors, chaired and summarized the reasons for the merger. Board members are Garry Parden, Wayne Pettis and Claude Agee.

The Mid-Clarke group, made up of 500 members, buys water in Grove Hill. Three part-time workers do some repairs, but major work needs to be contracted.

Mid-Clarke marks up the cost of Grove Hill water to provide reserve, charging $39 per month up to 2,000 gallons and $6.50 per mile beyond the minimum. Grove Hill, on the other hand, has a base rate of $18.49 for up to 2,000 gallons and charges $4.85 per mile above the minimum.

Carlisle said the average savings should be 50% for Mid-Clarke customers.

Long-term benefits were more of a concern for Carlisle, which said much of Mid-Clarke’s infrastructure is up to 50 years old. Replacement costs are high. Joining Grove Hill and creating a larger system will allow the system to better seek grants and low interest loans.

Maxine Larsen, Wayne Pettis and Florine Carlisle tallied the votes on the water meltdown.

It hasn’t been said, but many of Mid-Clarke’s part-timers and volunteers are getting older.

The Grove Hill system agreed on several elements, including:

If the Mid-Clarke office were sold, the proceeds from the sale would go to the former Mid-Clarke neighborhood;

Mid-Clarke’s $150,000 reserve would be used in the Mid-Clarke area;

Fares would be the same as Grove Hill;

The Grove Hill Utilities Board is reportedly seeking to appoint a board member from Mid-Clarke to the Grove Hill board. This decision ultimately rests with the Grove Hill Council.

Three members of the Grove Hill Board of Directors were present: Chairman Kossie Powell and members Johnny Reid and Gene Pritchett. Board member Vanessa Pugh was present. Powell is also a board member.

They remained silent during the comments. A member of Mid-Clarke said, “Let Grove Hill say how badly they want it.

They were still silent but Pritchett eventually said Grove Hill would take over the system if Mid-Clarke votes yes, but added, “We didn’t ask for it.”

Two members of Mid-Clarke who are members of the Helwestern Fire Department spoke out, Darren Henson and Matthew Younge, asking Grove Hill if it would maintain the hydrants to provide the current level of protection and rating of ISO fire resistance.

Younge suggested there was nothing in the deal that binds Grove Hill. Carlisle said the deal was to keep the whole system going.

The suggestion was that fire protection would decrease under Grove Hill’s watch.

No other Mid-Clarke members expressed an opinion one way or the other, but the vote was 68-16 when counted.

Mid-Clarke serves the Gates and Pine Acres subdivisions, now within the municipal boundaries of Grove Hill; on Highway 43, across Drive-In Theater Road; a distance on the road to Hebron; on the Allen Road; on the Allen-Walker Highway and on Piney Woods Roads and Side Roads.

No changeover schedule has been announced.