As many in the area are aware, Sharp County is considering implementing a county wide natural gas project. Sharp County Judge Larry Brown has announced the next step in the project will be coming up very soon and he would like to make the public aware of the meeting that will be held Feb. 20 at Highland Sports Center.
Brown said he and a representative with Crist Engineering has visited sites with similar systems in Mississippi and feels confident that this type of system will best suit the needs of the residents of Sharp County.
Brown said the initial feasibility study has been completed by Crist Engineering in Little Rock. The study has considered the advantages of building, operating and maintaining this natural gas system. The mayors of Sidney, Evening Shade, Ash Flat, Cherokee Village and Hardy have cumulatively decided to move forward to the second step in the project.
The second step involves securing signed user agreements for those potential users in the Sharp County cities to be potentially served by the natural gas system. This will help give a more accurate count of those who would like to be served in the event the system becomes a reality. This also helps secure the financing for the project. Mayors of all cities involved would like potential users to take into consideration several factors outlined by the mayors of allthe cities involved in the potential natural gas system. The provisions were listed in a news release published on Jan. 27.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has agreed to provide funding for the project and the project schedule calls for user agreements to be executed by March 15, 2010. The release states that these agreements require a $100 connection fee be collected. The monies will be deposited in a separate account by Sharp County. In the event there is not enough public interest and the natural gas system is not constructed, the $100 fees will be fully refunded.
These user agreements and fees may be turned in at either Sharp County Judge Larry Brown's office, the Sharp County treasurer's office, or at any of the city halls in Sidney, Evening Shade, Ash Flat, Highland, Cherokee Village or Hardy. The mayors stress that to help improve the feasibility of the project it is very important that as many users as possible sign their user agreements.
The release states that the availability of a reliable supply of natural gas is a benefit to both businesses and residents of Sharp County, especially during extreme weather events and is also a very important economic development tool for Sharp County. The minimum monthly bills will be in the range of $20.
If and when the natural gas system is established in the county, the Sharp County Natural Gas System will be a department of Sharp County and the governance will be the responsibility of the Sharp County Quorum Court. The system will be designed so as to expand and serve additional users in the future.
The county wide natural gas system, which includes the entire county with the exception of some homes in Cave City served by another gas company. The project will provide for long term positive benefits for the county as a whole, and users are encouraged to adopt a long term perspective regarding the potential project.
The release says that currently , the cost of construction of the prospective natural gas project are favorable to insure the county's building the system at a reasonable price. Those interested are invited to attend this public meeting to ask any questions they need answered. The meeting will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 20 at the A.L. Hudson gym in Highland.