By Stephen Smoot
Feb. 14 is almost universally seen as a day for love and lovers, but at least this year, it also served as a day for Franklin to conduct official town business.
The council received the third hearing of a proposed bond issue that would pay for renovations to the town’s sewer plant complex. As Frank Wehrle, business manager for the Town of Franklin explained earlier this year, the project will install “two new clearwell tanks to replace the existing clearwell that is situated below the plant. The area where the current clearwell is located will be shored up to prevent further settling of the plant’s foundation.”
Additionally, the town will purchase “a new electronics suite planned to enable better plant automation and provide up-to-date feedback to the operators should their attention be needed. The primary filter is being renovated and the backwash system is being replaced as well.” Work will also commence on the Hanover tank, which will “be sandblasted and painted on the exterior and interior.” The town will also install new safety equipment.
The bond will raise $1.8 million to help to pay for the upgrades. Franklin officials are pursuing a bond issue for the plat to avoid raising rates on customers.
Wehrle also described other maintenance needs related to the sewer plant. First, he stated that the generator at the sewer plant would need a new transfer switch costing $6,200. He explained later that in November or December, workers reported hearing a “clanging noise.” Upon inspection, Wehrle discovered that the nearly 50-year-old transfer switch original to the building required repair.
The city could keep the box, but must “replace its guts.” When working properly, transfer switches help generators to kick on and provide power smoothly and efficiently. Wehrle suggested that “we don’t want to get into a situation where we need it and it breaks.”
Sewage pump issues also required the town’s attention. Both sewage pumps that control flow for Painters Point failed, which Wehrle said was “unfortunate and irritating.” The town plans to acquire one new pump for $12,000 and a second rebuilt model for $9,200. Wehrle explained that “we’re going a little high here, estimating $40,000 in total”
The pumps may have failed in part because of oil, grease, and “whatever goes down the drain.” Buildup of such materials can hamper or damage function. One council member asked about oil and grease traps while another listed the food service facilities in Franklin who have them in place. Wehrle replied that, “you’ll never completely eliminate it” and that preventative maintenance is the best way to maintain the systems.
Bruce Minor then discussed the Potomac Valley Transit Authority’s grant application to design and build a hydrogen fuel hub in Petersburg. He explained that “we’ll use hydrogen to fuel buses,” and added that school buses in the region could also eventually use the fuel. The town council agreed to provide a letter of support for PVTA’s application.