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Commissioners set to approve well water tests for Rowan residents

The Rowan County Health Department may soon begin offering heavy metal testing kits for water wells.

Specifically, the test kits would analyze well water for vanadium and hexavalent chromium. both elements were previously found in tests near Buck Steam Station’s coal ash ponds. Tests offered through the Health Department were developed by North Carolina’s State Laboratory of Public Health.

In a memo to Rowan County Commissioners, Rowan Public Health Director Nina Oliver asks for approval of a fee structure for the kits. Commissioners during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting are set to approve $150 as the cost for a combined vanadium and hexavalent chromium test. The fee structure appears as part of Monday’s consent agenda, which is used for items with unanimous agreement.

County commissioners will meet at 3 p.m. Monday in the second-floor meeting room of the Rowan County Administration Building at 130 West Innes St.

Rowan County’s Board of Health already approved the fee structure during its Nov. 10 meeting. Rowan County Commissioners would give the fee structure final approval.

Vanadium test kits would be offered to the Rowan County Health Department for $65, according to Oliver’s memo. Hexavalent chromium kits would be offered to the Health Department for $50, she wrote. Her memo recommends combining the two kits. The $150 price factors in employee pay, travel and postage.

“There will be a high demand for sample kits from residents who live near the areas already sampled,” Oliver wrote in her memo.

Rowan residents who live within 1,500 feet of Buck Steam Station’s coal ash ponds were part of water sampling conducted as part of the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014. An overwhelming number of wells exceeded state standards for vanadium and hexavalent chromium. The new test kits would be offered to North Carolina residents who have not had prior sampling done, Oliver wrote.

Oliver said Environmental Health staff would collect the samples because of time sensitivity.

The State Department of Health and Human Services first confirmed to the Salisbury Post it was working on developing the testing kits in June.

In other business from Monday’s County Commissioners agenda:

• Commissioners will pick a chairman and vice chairman for 2016.

Currently, Greg Edds serves as chairman and Jim Greene serves as vice chairman.

Rowan County Commissioners have previously said they are happy with the current leadership positions.

Commissioners choose a chairman and vice chairman every year.

• Commissioners will receive sports complex feasibility presentations from three firms.

The three firms — Conventions Sports and Leisure, Victus Advisors and Johnson Consulting — previously submitted qualifications to complete a sports complex feasibility study.

In its submission Convention Sports and Leisure — based in Minnesota — cites a 2009 study that investigated a conference facility in Salisbury. Initiated by Downtown Salisbury Inc., the study didn’t move past its second phase. Downtown Salisbury chose not to proceed after phase one.

Victus Advisors — based in Utah — mentions Ramsay, Burgin, Smith Architects as its primary subcontractor. Ramsay, Burgin Smith is based in Salisbury. Its president is Bill Burgin. The submission cites Burgin’s experience building the Salisbury, East Rowan and South Rowan YMCAs.

In its submission, Johnson Consulting, based in Chicago, cites experience building a track and field stadium in Durham County and a soccer complex in Raleigh.

County commissioners are not expected to choose a firm during Monday’s meeting.

• Commissioners are scheduled to pick a firm to oversee a firm for a parks master plan.

The parks master plan is separate from the sports complex feasibility study.

Two firms — Benesch and McAdams — made presentations during commissioners’ previous meetings. Both firms are based in Charlotte.

• Commissioners are scheduled to consider approval of construction documents for an Emergency Medical Services station in Rockwell.

• Commissioners are scheduled to receive an officer safety presentation from Taser International.

The company has a program that would involve stun guns, body cameras and cloud storage for the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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