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Annexation, sewage upgrades on Winfield mayor’s agenda

January 9, 2019

WINFIELD — Re-elected to a fourth term as mayor of Winfield, Randy Barrett is looking to continue making strides on long-term goals like fixing the sewage system and a project to expand the Putnam County city’s boundaries.

The city’s sewer plant was built in the mid-1980s, when Winfield was largely a farming community. The plant has been in violation of dumping excessive ammonia into the Kanawha River on and off since 2001.

Winfield invested $2 million in 2009 to dredge and clean its existing sewer lagoon system. The city ended up spending half a million dollars on trying to address the problem, but was not successful in fixing the ammonia levels, Barrett said.

This investment happened during Mayor Ronald Stone’s tenure. Mayors preceding Stone had not invested in the sewage system, Barrett said.

″[The $2 million investment] didn’t do anything,” Barrett said. “But other than what he had done, no one had done anything about it.”

Barrett said there were people close to him who told him that taking up the sewer issue wasn’t good for re-election, but he thought something needed to be done.

Barrett raised sewer rates, and he’s been working on getting a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to help fund the project.

Another project he’d like to see through is the city’s effort to extend its boundaries. An annexation hearing has been going on for the past two years at the county commission, but talks of annexing have been happening since 2013.

“We’re going to get the boundaries in line on the city where it should be,” Barrett said. “That’s something that’s been high on the agenda.”

The plan is to extend the city westward to Little Hurricane Creek. Barrett said the expansion could help with population growth and be good for businesses.

“There’s not many acres in city limits where you can build,” Barrett said.

In the past, business owners in the area did not support the annexation, saying it would impose more taxes on them while giving little benefit.

Opponents presented two anti-annexation petitions to Putnam County commissioners in 2014. One of the petitions was signed by 40 business owners and residents, and another signed by 601 residents and customers of local businesses, according to a previous Gazette-Mail report.

Barrett said it is true that property taxes would go up, but property value would, too, which would offset the cost.

Annexing will be brought up again at a Putnam County Commission meeting at the end of January. Commissioners do not need to come to a decision that night, but it’s possible they might, Barrett said.

Another project he hopes to wrap up in the spring is a boat ramp on Garfield Street next to the community center. The plans for the project were supposed to be done in the beginning of January but it will probably continue until the end of April, Barrett said.

The ramp will cost more than $10 million and is completely federally funded.

Sometime in the next year, Barrett plans to start on a streetscape, which will include new sidewalks from Garfield Street to Winfield Middle School on W.Va. 817. It will cost $750,000 and the state will pay for 80 percent of it.

Reach Rebecca Carballo at rebecca.carballo@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow

@Becca_Carballo on Twitter.

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