Bill Rice Running for Re-Election as Sistersville Mayor
SISTERSVILLE – Mayor Bill Rice is running unopposed for re-election in the March 24 municipal election.
“I feel although I’m running unopposed, people should know I am a person who likes to make things happen,” he said. “If we can just get people working together, we can accomplish anything. The past two years have been challenging but we have cleaned things up in our city government.”
Born and raised in Sisterville, Rice served on City Council between 1995 and 2002.
After two terms as mayor between 2002 and 2006, Rice took some time off but decided to get back into the game and served on council between 2010 and 2014 before being elected to another term as mayor.
Rice worked for Ormet Corporation for nearly 34 years before he retired as general supervisor in the Rod Room and Carbon Services area, where he supervised six shift foremen and almost 100 men working a daily shift. Currently, Rice is managing the family business, Ohio Valley Customs, a tire and car detailing business downtown.
During Rice’s present term as mayor, he has been a tireless advocate for upgrading and improving the city’s water infrastructure. Rice said the city needs to shore up its water loss rate by repairing water lines and moving forward toward the purchase of radio-read water meters.
He said though the city pumps out about 3 million gallons of water per month, it bills for only about 1.6 million gallons.
The state’s Public Service Commission’s (PSC) standards require that utilities’ “unaccounted for” lost water is no more than 15 percent of the total water pumped.
Rice said it is necessary to reduce the city’s water loss rate so that it can potentially connect with the Tyler Public Service District’s water system, which could supply the city’s water instead the Ohio River. Sistersville is among the last places in the state to rely on the Ohio River for its water supply.
Toward that end, Rice wants council to consider purchasing radio-read meters that will reduce costs. He said the water meters would cost about $180 each for a total cost between $130,000 and $171,000 to replace the meters. The new meters would provide more accurate water bills by reducing human error and saving money through more efficient readings, he said.
Rice said connecting Sistersville to Tyler PSD would cost up to $3.5 million. He said preliminary estimates indicate it would cost Sistersville $2 million to hook-up to the Tyler PSD. He said after the hook-up expense, the city would borrow up to $1.5 million for leaky water line repairs.
Rice said unfortunately, $1.5 million is not enough to repair as many water lines as he would like. However, Rice said, the city would look at making repairs in the oldest part of town, the Fourth Ward, where the most leaks have been reported.
Rice said the city could borrow up to $3.5 million before it would need to raise water/sewer rates. If the city pursued a new water plant, he said, rate hikes would be necessary to borrow $3.7 million to build a new water plant. The city’s Water Board is carefully weighing these options about what projects it will endorse.
If re-elected, Rice plans to make upgrading and improving the city’s water structure a big priority.
“My next two years will be spent getting a new water system or plant in place,” he said. “Our current water system is almost 200 years old. We have got to begin working to keep our water supply safe for all the citizens of Sistersville. Just look at some of the issues going on around us.”
During Rice’s tenure as mayor within the last two years, the city began the process of creating a new streetscape plans that may include new sidewalks, landscaping, street lights and other amenities similar the improvements made in downtown Middlebourne. Rice said the money to pay for the project comes from a $200,00 state grant with the city providing an additional $40,000 match an 80/20 split. He said the project should begin in spring or summer.
Burgess and Niple Engineering of Parkersburg will be translating council’s vision into reality. He said changing the traffic flow on Wells Street was an important part of these plans when it was opened to two-way traffic flowing in both directions. The city placed a stoplight at the intersection of Wells Street and Route 2.
Rice said if re-elected, he intends to work with council to pursue the initiatives that are underway. He promises to continue to be open and accessible to the citizens always giving a straight answer. Rice urges citizens to vote in the city’s municipal election on March 24.
“I hope that even though every council position and the mayor’s seat are unopposed, people will still go out and vote,” he said. “I want everyone to know I will continue to listen to every citizens problems and try to help them. And thank you everyone for letting me serve you as mayor.”