Commissioners approve natural gas contract

On Thursday, the commissioners signed a three-year contract with Houston, Texas-based Constellation Newenergy LLC, to supply all of the county government’s natural gas starting July 31.

Commission President David White said they received the contracts at the beginning of the year, but have put off the signing of the documents until the weekly meeting on Thursday. White said he had been watching the prices of natural gas since the contracts were received in hopes that the price would continue to drop in order to get the county a better deal. After White said he consulted with financial experts, he concluded that the price had hit rock bottom.

“Gas prices are only going to go up from here,” he said.

Originally planned to be tabled until further review, Commissioner Ron Feathers put the contract to a vote.

“I move we approve the contract,” Feathers said.

The contract was approved unanimously by the commissioners, and a price of $3.29 per thousand cubic feet was locked in with their signatures. The commissioners also had the option of signing a one or two year deal, but chose to keep the prices locked in over a three-year period.

In other business discussed, the commissioners approved the use of the courthouse steps for the National Day of Prayer on May 2.

Approval for the annual event was asked for by Pastor Rodney Lord of the Freedom Gate Church on Tennis Center Drive.

The National Day of Prayer has been held annually since both houses of congress passed a bill for the day in 1952, which was signed by then President Harry Truman.

As the commissioners unanimously approved using the courthouse steps between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the event’s annual date of the first Thursday of May, White said the event has become tradition in Washington County.

“It’s been going on since I’ve been commissioner,” he said. “I have no objection to it.”

The commissioners also approved a $500,000 grant from the Community Development Block Grant Critical Infrastructure Program. The grant will be used to build a new water tank for the Highland Ridge Water District which includes Fearing, Independence, Lawrence, Liberty, Muskingum, Newport and Salem townships.

The current water tank doesn’t meet current EPA standards because it can only hold 0.7 of a day’s worth of water at a time for the 3,257 residents who live in the water district. According to the grant agreement, that amount of water isn’t enough to provide adequate fire protection.

A permit to install was issued on Nov. 9, 2018, giving the project authorization to proceed. The agreement also states that the project needs to be completed no later than April 30, 2021.

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