Save the Sharp Farm of Pocahontas County
History and heritage in Slatyfork, West Virginia.

PSD Chairman Calvin Hill Resigns

Thursday August 3, 2006
The Pocahontas Times

By Pamela Pritt

Citing health problems and frustration with county commissioners and project planners, the chairman of the Pocahontas County Public Service District resigned July 25.

County commissioners had just reappointed Calvin Hill to a six-year term on the PSD at their June 8 meeting.

The PSD is responsible for the drinking water system in Durbin and for overseeing the progress of the proposed sewage treatment plant in Slaty Fork.

The Slaty Fork facility, which would primarily serve Snowshoe Mountain Resort, has been a topic of heated discussion at many of the PSD's monthly meetings.

During a phone interview July 27, Hill said his resignation was brought on by personal health concerns, not by the controversy surrounding the $17 million project.

But in a letter submitted to The Pocahontas Times later that day, Hill wrote of his frustration with apparent back-room deals involving officials in Charleston and the PSD's attorney, Tom Michael.

"I feel like there were very important issues that should have been brought to our attention that were decided behind closed doors without my knowledge," Hill wrote. "I don't like the way things have been going on behind our backs."

While the PSD is responsible for overseeing the project, Hill said he felt like the PSD's attorney, Tom Michael, was "running the show."

Michael declined to comment Monday, saying he had not yet seen Hill's letter.

Hill sent copies of the letter to the West Virginia Public Service Commission and to Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

Hill said information was withheld from PSD board members as they made decisions about the project and that the issue of eminent domain weighed heavily on his mind.

Project engineers have said the most cost effective site for the plant would be on a nine-acre parcel of land adjacent to the U.S. 219 bridge that crosses the Big Spring Fork of the Elk River.

That land belongs to Slaty Fork native and Texas resident Barbara Sharp Smith. Several of Smith's relatives own neighboring tracts of the original Sharp family homestead.

Sharp's Country Store and Bed and Breakfast are situated to the north of the site on U.S. 219.

Members of the Sharp family have said they will not allow the plant to be located on the property without a fight.

In his letter, Hill said the members of the PSD took on the Slaty Fork sewer project as a way to get the Durbin water plant out of debt.

Since the project began, Hill indicated his feelings about taking it on had changed.

"In all good conscience I sincerely believe Snowshoe should stand on their own two feet and take care of the sewer themselves," Hill wrote.

During the October PSC hearing, Snowshoe Mountain's General Manager Bill Rock said the sewage treatment plant was a "key issue" for the resort and admitted the resort's own system was out of compliance with state and federal environmental standards.

Tom Shipley, who owns and operates Sharp's Store and Bed and Breakfast, has appealed the PSC's Certificate of Necessity for the Slaty Fork plant. His appeal goes before the state Supreme Court September 6.

Michael said progress on the project is on hold until the Supreme Court rules on the appeal.