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KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to start the process of consolidating two public service districts to improve service for residents in the smaller area.

If approved during the July 27 meeting following a public hearing, the Fountain Public Service District will combine with the Frankfort PSD. The newly combined entity would be renamed Mineral County PSD.

Commissioner Jerry Whisner said the merger, if approved, is expected to enhance water and sewer services for those currently in the Fountain district. However, on a “sad note,” Whisner said it is expected to raise the rates for customers of the Fountain PSD by about $5.

Whisner attributed the rise in rates to a dearth of residents.

“It’s just debt to people,” Whisner said. “They don’t have enough people in there to spread the debt. That’s why it’s so high.”

The folks currently served in the Fountain district would reap the benefits of Frankfort’s much larger network, Whisner said. There are fewer than 800 households served in Fountain and nearly 3,000 in Frankfort. Commission President Richard “Doc” Lechliter noted Frankfort is one of the 10 largest PSDs in West Virginia.

“Frankfort is the largest public service district in the county, so they have more resources than any other public service district or water district in the county,” County Coordinator Luke McKenzie said. “Being added to that system is going to be a service to those citizens. Rather than having one technician available, there’s numerous.”

“They should be getting better service,” Whisner said of the merger’s potential benefits for Fountain customers. “There’s more people on the ground. The management team in Frankfort is excellent. They’ve operated their facility in a great way. So has Fountain, but this, I think, will bring it up to modern standards.”

The commission meets next on July 13.

Lindsay Renner-Wood is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News, covering West Virginia and more. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayRenWood, email lrenner-wood@times-news.com or call 304-639-4403.

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Lindsay Renner-Wood is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News, covering West Virginia and more. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayRenWood, email lrenner-wood@times-news.com or call 304-639-4403.