Conservation District review bids, gear up for spring

Photo by Yelena Kisler
Yelena Kisler
Staff Writer

The Elk County Conservation District Board made quick work of their short agenda at Monday's meeting, reviewing bids for the West Creek Watershed project, discussing the upcoming DGLVR season, and other agenda times.
Last month, Water Technician Stephanie Stoughton sent out requests for bids for the permitting and final engineering design for the West Creek Watershed acid mine drainage treatment systems project. The project will be funded with money from the Going Greener Grant, a recent Stackpoll-Hall grant, and County Act 13 money given to Trout Unlimited.
At the meeting, Chairman Russ Braun opened the bids and they were reviewed by the Board. The bids received were all from reputable companies recommended to Stoughton by DCNR. The bids were as follows:
•Hedin Environmental out of Pittsburg submitted a bid of $77,880.
•Santec Inc. out of Mechanicsburg submitted the highest bid at $101,530.
•BioMost Inc., aka Stream Restoration Inc., submitted the lowest bid at $75,875.
After some discussion on permitting details of the project and the bids themselves, the Board voted to accept the bid from BioMost, pending a final review of the bid by Stoughton to make sure everything is in order.
As winter gives way to spring, Resource Conservation Technician Kate Wehler and the District have been receiving more and more applications for projects through the Dirt and Gravel, Low Volume Roads project.
"It's spring, so everybody's ready to go," said Wehler.
The District will hold their Quality Assurance Board meeting April 22 to review project applications and determine which ones can be funded this cycle. Wehler and District Manager Steve Putt have been reviewing submitted applications, visiting sites, and conducting the pre-application meeting.
Unfortunately, the District has more applications than they have funding available this cycle, this is partly due to a change in the way they are receiving funding.
"The way that our granting cycles have been working, we've been typically awarding the bulk of out money in the spring and then if we have leftover money in the fall," explained Wehler. "These projects are [now] having a lot more pre-planning, a lot more preparation, they're bigger more intense projects… The more complicated they get, the longer they're taking to plan. So, the way that we've been spending our money has kind of flip-flopped. Now it works out that our smaller granting cycle is in the spring, and we'll get a new lump some of money when the state passes they're budget [hopefully in June or July]. Then we'll be able to do bigger projects in the fall cycle."

This Friday, March 29, Wehler and Stoughton will be representing the District at Career Day to be held at the Elk Country Visitors Center.
"They invite college students and a high school student. We've had I think close to 200 [people attend], " said Wehler. "It's a pretty big career day event."

Braun asked Wehler whether there has been any interest from those in the area to use the newly-acquired Buffalo Turbine blower. Wehler said that the Game Commission was interested in using it, but they ran into an issue with the required $500, returnable deposit. Since they are a government agency, they are prohibited from writing checks, and the District doesn't have the ability to place a credit hold for the amount.
After some back and forth discussion on the matter, board members voted to establish an option, to be used at the managing director's discretion, that would allow a waiver of that $500 fee for government entities.
"We should not be letting that thing sit there because of this," said Public Director Joe Labant.
Wehler noted that Jay Township, the Rails to Trails Associaton, and St. Marys Sportsmen's Club have also expressed interest in using the machine.

For more on this story, see today's publication of the Ridgway Record. (Tuesday, March 26, 2019).