Water bills, service put residents at odds with Matoaka officials

Bluefield Daily Telegraph – Billing and complaints to the state Public Service Commission were the issue Monday when the town of Matoaka ended service to several households for not paying water bills.

..As children arrived home from school, Cynthia Wuestefeld, 40, of Matoaka said her home’s water had been cut off that day. “I went over to the town hall first thing,” she said, adding she had her water receipts and water audits, and tried to get the town to show her bills.

“They would not work with me at all,” Wuestefeld stated. “Travis (Mayor Travis Colonna) told me my bill was right and we could pay it or not pay it, and he didn’t care. He wouldn’t discuss my bill with me.” Neighbor Deedee Chartrand, 40, said her water was also cut off Monday. She had a bill of more than $1,004.

“I tried to go in and talk to the mayor,” she stated. “And he didn’t want to see anything.”

..Matoaka resident Carla Oakley said she filed two Freedom of Information Act requests Monday concerning the town’s water situation and its police officer.

“Two FOIA requests were filed in the Town Hall of Matoaka on Monday morning January 23, 2017 and copied to the Prosecuting Attorney of Mercer County, George Sitler. One request pertains to the financial activities of the water and sewer system maintained by the town,” Oakley said in a statement sent to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. “The request made is to examine all accounts receivables, accounts payables, certifications of water and sewer employees and billing practices.”

“This request comes after the town of Matoaka failed to comply with an order dated November 17, 2016 from the Public Service Commission in W.Va., Case Number 16-0476-S-W-C, which required the town to immediately change their billing practices to conform with W.Va. state code. Bills are not being received by residences or businesses.”

“Delinquent water bill notices were placed on various customers doors including the Matoaka Volunteer Fire Department on Friday January 20, 2017 stating that water would be disconnected unless payment was received by Monday January 23, 2017. The notices that were displayed are not in compliance with the W.Va. state code of billing for utilities and not in compliance with the PSC order from November 2016,” Oakley said.

“The town has been under a boil advisory since September 13, 2016 according to the WVDHHR website. The reason for this boil advisory states lack of a certified operator.

..The town hall’s front door was padlocked Monday, Oakley stated. Colonna said the new padlock has been in place “for four to five months” because the door’s built-in lock sometimes doesn’t work.

The second FOIA was filed because it was not clear whether the town’s current chief of police is certified as a police officer in West Virginia, Oakley said.

Read the entire story… Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Source: Water bills, service put residents at odds with Matoaka officials