Buchanan Mayor Larry Hall told the new Town Council Monday night he met with the engineers and the contractor who did the work on the $7.1 million water distribution system upgrade to see why the town is still losing upward of 40 percent of its water.
He said the engineers— Engineering Concepts Inc.— and contractor— E.C. Pace— probably won’t be able to isolate any leak problems until a new water tank at the Well No. 2 lot is installed to replace an old reservoir and issues with Well No. 1 are taken care of.
Hall noted, too, that water lines on Washington Street and Bedford Street are older than they thought when the water line improvement project was designed— so there may be issues there.
“We spent all this money and I don’t feel we have tightened our water system like we should have,” Hall said.
“We want an answer. We have a plan laid out (with the engineers and contractor) to try to figure out where the water loss is,” he continued. “We want to have 20 percent or lower water loss. Whether we can achieve that? I think we can.”
Monday night’s meeting was the first with just four council members and the mayor. The town’s charter was changed last year to reduce the number of council members from six to four with the mayor continuing to have a vote as an “elector.”
It was the first official meeting for Council member James Manspile, who was elected in the fall with Mike Burton and incumbents Della Hylton and Jane Kneisley. Manspile was elected vice-mayor during the meeting.
Hall also appointed him to head the Public Works Committee. Hylton will continue as chair of the Planning Commission; Kneisley will chair the Public Safety and Financial Committees and Burton will chair the Events and Recognition Committee.
The council members met in a work session last Thursday when Hall reviewed the duties of the mayor, council, town manager and town staff.
One of the items that came out of the work session was the need to make text amendments to the town codes, town policies and town charter. Council will hold another work session on February 7 at 7 p.m. to go over the possible amendments. The town’s auditor will also be on hand to give an overview of the town’s finances.
Hall said the need for the updates comes from years of just adding to the code or modifying it without paying close enough attention to what was done.
Another item that came out of the work session was how to make improvements to the town’s “gateways,” on US 11 and Rt. 43.
Town Manager Mary Zirkle said the town’s Comprehensive Plan provides a framework for addressing the town’s gateways, and with budget-making season approaching, it will be a good time to get directions from council on how to proceed.
Kneisley and Manspile both want to see the town’s streetlight system extended— particularly to the south on Main Street.
“There have been discussions among council members about doing something on the north and south ends of town,” Manspile said.
He said extending the streetlights would better show when people entered the town limits.
In other business:
- The town accepted a $3,300 contribution from Michelle Crook from Bank of Botetourt and Austin Electric as the second installment to pay for the new lighted flagpole at the Town Park. Crook also told council Bank of Botetourt was almost doubling its contribution to town events by providing $7,500 as a corporate sponsor for events this year.
- Council recognized Buchanan native and Nashville songwriter/musician Matt Ramsey with a resolution acclaiming his support for the Buchanan Area Ministerial Association’s Food Pantry. The resolution was presented to his parents, Peggy and Tom Ramsey. Matt Ramsey and some Nashville friends and fellow songwriters have raised over $50,000 for the food pantry through their annual Nashville Nights concerts.
- Council established a policy that moves council meetings from the second Monday of the month to the third Monday should a meeting have to be cancelled because of bad weather. Council also set meetings for the second Monday except in October when it will be the third Monday because of the Columbus Day holiday.
- Council appointed Meade Stull and Bernadette Dawson to the town Planning Commission.
- Council appointed Ardelia Smith to the town Board of Zoning Appeals.
- Council learned that banners around town are promoting the Advancement Foundation’s Gauntlet program for new and existing small businesses. Zirkle said she’s received two inquiries from businesses about the program.
— Ed McCoy