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Water, electric depts. staying busy

During the most recent meeting of the City of Andalusia Utilities Board, those attending the session were able to hear updates on water and sewer services from Water and Sewer Superintendent Jimmy Wilson and electrical services from Electrical Superintendent Royce Whigham.

Wilson said several projects are progressing well, including the new water tank on the corner of First Avenue and Second Street.

"We already have the sewer and water tap made and the floor to be poured," said Wilson. "We like just putting the water in it now and hoping the floor will be poured next week. I am also hoping to have lights on it by the end of next week."

Wilson said he is "very pleased" with how the tank has shaped up thus far, noting the work was done by CBI out of Chicago.

In terms of other projects currently ongoing, Wilson said water and sewer lines are being relocated from Brantley to Sanford on both sides of the road and work is being done in coordination with the State Highway Department.

The City of Andalusia recently distributed the results of its annual water report to residents in Andalusia, and Wilson said he was pleased with the report.

"The water report we have to do annually," said Wilson. "This year we had one violation but overall we had a good report. Really the only major change we had was that we changed boards from a water board to the utilities board. Everything else is about like the previous reports that we've had. The report just gives information to the customers how we did the previous year and to tell them what is in the water."

He said he has not received any comments from residents about the report, which usually is good news, because it means the report is a good one.

Wilson added, however, that he does have the opportunity fairly often to discuss water issues with the general public.

"Especially in the schools when they are doing water-related projects they will give me a call," said Wilson.

As far as major projects planned for the near future,

Wilson said he plans to pursue additional grants to address other sewer lines and bring them totally up to date.

While Wilson said he is happy with how things are going with water and sewer projects in the city, Whigham also reported that he and his staff

have a full agenda of activities.

Whigham said the work includes the replacing of lights for a new parking area near East Three Notch Street and Central Street.

"We are also presently installing lights for the Church Street medians near McDonald's and we are working with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) on altering Three Notch Street and Third Street to facilitate a turn from Three Notch Street onto Third Street."

ALDOT is also working with the city on traffic light supports on the bypass and River Falls Street.

Poles are being either replaced or pulled up in various sections of the city as other utilities are also being pulled off some the poles.

In May, Whigham reported his department served 5,137 total customers, including 4,162 residential customers, 922 commercial customers and 53 industrial.

"We continue to urge customers to support and participate in the Project Share program, which is a very worthwhile program and it helps folks who are unable to pay their bills," said Whigham.

He said there has also been some confusion among some customers due to the utilities board approving a new cashless commerce system which will allow customers to pay their bills via several new methods, including by web application and interactive voice response.

Whigham stressed that despite the new options of payment, customers will still be able to pay via conventional means, such as a traditional check.

He said the city began sending out new utility bills, using new billing system equipment from Pitney-Bowes, for the first time this past week.

Whigham said the new bills will ensure greater privacy as well as giving a more detailed breakdown of charges to the customers.