The potential natural gas project has moved into the second phase in Sharp County. After Crist Engineering completed the feasibility study in late 2009, the next step was to collect user agreements to get a more accurate representation of the scope of the project and areas it would potentially cover. A public meeting was held Feb. 19 at the A.L. Hudson Gymnasium for residents to pose questions to both representatives of the USDA as well as the engineering firm that conducted the original study.
The proposed project would be the first county wide system in the state. Sharp County Judge Larry Brown said the meeting went very well, he said numerous of questions were answered.
Jeff Spencer with the USDA, who could provide the funding for the project and Stewart Noland with Crist Engineering, the company who conducted the initial feasibility study answered questions of the crowd of over 200.
Brown said the mayors of Highland, Ash Flat, Hardy and Sidney were present, as well as representatives from local propane companies. He said the propane companies handed out questionaries to those attending the meeting.
Several citizens also turned in their user agreements and $100 deposits agreeing to accept the natural gas in the event it becomes available.
Brown said currently the deadline for returning the user agreements is March 15. Brown said USDA told him that if users would like to pay a $25 deposit and the remainder within a month or two, that is an option available. He said it is very important that anyone who wants the natural gas sign up for it during the initial phase.
Because there is a trunk line in Sharp County near Evening Shade, the gas will be available to residents in the county if there is enough interest in the project.
Brown said after March 15, when all the forms are collected from local city halls, the locations will be recorded on a GPS mapping system. The USDA will then do a financial feasibility study based on those who signed up. They will then do a financial feasibility to study to determine it will be profitable to construct the system. If the findings indicate it is financially feasible, the USDA will fund the project and move forward with construction plans.
Brown said the system could be a small system with a main line along the highway or a much larger system, depending on what the people want. This is something that is dependant on what the responses are from user agreements.