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© 2011 Lavalette Public Service District Lavalette, WV 25535
HISTORY OF LAVALETTE PSD
In 1964, Lavalette was a small community situated just south of Huntington. The residents had no water supply other than wells which produced low amounts of poor quality water. The newly formed Lavalette Volunteer Fire Department was also in need of fire hydrants to protect the community they now served. J. A. Roe, Bill Wellman, Charles Overby, and a few other founders and members of the Fire Department lead the efforts to obtain a public water supply for Lavalette.
Being a small, unincorporated community with no local government meant Lavalette would have difficulty getting funding. But J. A. Roe, Bill Wellman, Harry Smith, Charles Griffith, Carl Malcolm, Renick Wilkinson, and a few of the visionary community residents could see a time when Lavalette could be a thriving business and residential area, if it only had a good supply of water. Water was the key to growth, prosperity, and a better quality of life than they now had. These visionary residents, lead by the first Board chairman J.A. Rowe, took action.
This was a massive undertaking that involved several pump stations and tanks to transport purchased water from the City of Huntington to the homes in this small community. A loan for $486,000.00 from Farmers Home Administration (now called Rural Development) and a grant for $458,000. would finance this project if 400 customers could be signed. The initial tap fee would be $35.00, and a tap contract would need to be signed requiring a minimum bill of $6.00 per month be paid for three years, even if no water was used. Most of the community members who donated time to sign up potential customers we also members of the newly formed Lavalette Vol. Fire Department. The required 400 customers were signed, many buying more than one tap and paying the minimum bill for the three years just to make it happen. The first customers went online October 10, 1967, and the rest is history.
Since 1964, the District has grown steadily. The first office, was located in the garage of the first office clerk Glenna Wellman, then was moved into a new office building in 1969. Billing and record keeping was done by hand so more office help was soon needed. Opel Fisher was soon hired, followed by Linda Davis as an Office Clerk.
Some of the original line installation was done by subcontract using equipment owned by Bill Wellman (husband of Glenna Wellman). In 1966, Bill Wellman and Carroll Earp formed W&E Excavating and began doing maintenance, repair, meter reading, and installation of new taps for the District. Labor was provided by Bill Wellman, Carroll Earp, Jack Ward, Bill Willis, Darrell Wellman, Rick Wellman, and other part time help.. In 1971 Bill Wellman formed Wellman Construction Co. and was the District’s contractor until 1975.
Shortly thereafter, Darrell Wellman and Arnold Sullivan formed Lavalette Trenching Company and began doing contract line repair, extensions of service, and booster station maintenance for the District. This continued until about 1986 at which time the District hired its own employees and equipment and began doing their own in house maintenance & repair.
In 1972, an extension of the main line was needed to provide service to approximately 75 new
customer south of Lavalette.
The 1990's signaled an era of unprecedented growth of residential and business expansion in Lavalette. Over 400 new homes and business have been constructed since 1990, most in the past five years. Several sub-divisions sprang up on land previously not usable because of poor water supplies. Mobile home park developments added customers very quickly. Businesses began to notice the southward expansion of the Huntington residential area and business construction began to boom in Lavalette. By 1994 customer base was 2000 and growing. The demand on the water system soon taxed the capacity of LPSD’s main lines and pumps to the limit. An experienced Board realized that something was going to have to be done and done soon.
In 1995, the Board of Directors (Dennis Lyons, Bill Willis, Joe Booten) and General Manager Darrell Wellman began to explore ways to increase employee productivity, system capacity, system reliability, and still control rates. It wasn’t long before the answer was very apparent, the District was going to have to upgrade every aspect of its operation to take advantage of new technologies and improvements in equipment. That guided the District to touch-read meter reading, installed by employees, beginning in 1996. Meter reading time was cut by 60% allowing employees to do other tasks. Pumps were upgraded making use of higher capacity, more efficient pumps and valves, again done with District employees. Self-help extensions and Public Service Commission approved ”Developer Agreements” became a part of the strategy to keep cost under control, yet still provide new service. Since 1996, over nine miles of new self-help main line, and numerous developments have been installed at no cost to the District or impact on customer rates. Office and field employees, trucks, construction equipment, radio communications equipment, billing and office computers, water purchase cost, and water loss were all addressed. Trucks, tools, and equipment were purchased, allowing the District to do more “in house” projects and saving future cost. It had been a very difficult and busy five year growth program for the District, but the results were astounding. The District was now financially sound and keeping ahead of amazing growth.
In 1999, the Lavalette Public Service District served over 2600 customers, through 160 miles
of main line. The system consist of 158 fire hydrants, 300+ main line valves, five pump
stations with five storage tanks (a 6th pump station and tank will be added in 2000), 13
pressure reducing valves (PRV’s), and 8 master meters which are phone-read each morning by
In 2003 the District again made drastic improvements to the system and capacities. Booster
pumps were up sized again and new computer based “Scada” booster and tank monitoring equipment
was purchased and installed. Every aspect of the distribution system was now computer
controlled and monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This also included security alarms
and intrusion features.
In the spring of 2006, the extended boundaries of Lavalette PSD began extensions of service
from the town of Prichard south along Rt 52 to the Town of Ft Gay, Big Hurricane Creek Road,
Little Hurricane Creek Road, Queens Creek, Sugar Branch, Long Branch, and surrounding areas.
This $5,000,000. extension of service covered 29 miles and added 250 rural customers. The
first services were turned on in September of 2006.
In 2007, the Lavalette Public Service District will serve over 3,300 customers, through 250
miles of main line. The system consist of 240 fire hydrants, 450+ main line valves, seven
pump stations with six storage tanks, 18 pressure reducing valves (PRV’s), and 3 master
meters which are read each morning by computer.
As of December 2008 the District owns 11 trucks, 7 backhoes, 6 trailers, an excavator, 2 air
compressors, a construction box trailer, a street sweeper, a radio repeater communications
system and personal radios for each employee, and a full compliment of testing and line locating