Dam could move county to a leader in new technology
By MEGAN COOPER
Mt. Pleasant News
Putting in a hydroelectric dam at Oakland Mills could make Henry County at the forefront for new technology
According to Executive Director of Conservation John Pullis, the purpose behind the push for a hydroelectric dam is for three reasons, to be a leader in new technology, to use the revenue from the electricity to provide maintenance for the dam (currently it falls onto tax dollars) and to, well, make money.
“It’s new technology and we should want to be on top,” said Pullis during his monthly report to the board during the Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday. “It’s fairly environmental friendly and with 20,000 other dams being identified as possible places to do this, we could be a main facility.”
Though Pullis is supportive of the hydroelectric and feels that it could be good for the county, he is also hesitant as to when it will happen and how.
“I feel that even though it’s a great idea, that we should wait until an actual unit is built,” said Pullis. “We can’t really do any prep work because we don’t know exactly what we need to do without an actual unit. We would need a license anyway to even stir the dirt, which is costly. I have a hard time spending taxpayer dollars on something we aren’t sure will work.
“I feel that we should wait for the unit to be built, which will be later this year or early next year, and see what happens. Studies have shown this unit will work, but there is not a product for us to look at. We need it proved to us that it will work before we take steps towards implementing a unit here,” explained Pullis.
Clarence “Zip” Mettenburg, a local proponent for the hydroelectric project, echoed Pullis’ reasoning for implementing the new units.
“It would provide low-cost electricity for the community and it wouldn’t use tax dollars,” said Mettenburg. “The revenue could help to maintain the dam and fix itself.”
Mettenburg would like to see a community group established in order to proceed ahead with this project and possibly offer financial assistance.
“If we could get the city/county on board and look at what we would need to do, we could move forward,” said Mettenburg. “The group could help with the assessments and financially. It’s something we should look at doing.”
After more discussion, Pullis concluded by saying, “We won’t lead the charge on this project. We will be a player in it, but we will have to see something before we go ahead. It’s not prudent to use tax dollars without a proven product.”
Pullis did mention that the footbridge at Oakland Mills is closed until repairs are made in the fall. There are gates on either side and the contractor for the project deemed it necessary to remain closed due to safety concerns.
In other board news, Vice-Chairman Greg Moeller reported from his sub-committee, RUSS, the Argyle reconstruction project will begin around mid-July.
“The project will cost around $144,802.50 and Randy Wiley Plumbing of Cantril will be working on the project,” said Moeller. “They will have 120 days to complete the project. During the RUSS meeting the 28E Agreement with Lee County was signed, making them the fiscal agent for RUSS. It is a five-year contract.”
The Henry County Board of Supervisors will meet again in regular session on Tuesday, June 17, at 9 a.m. in the board room at the courthouse.