Mason County News
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009 • Posted August 12, 2009

The summer heat continues and we are all suffering from the hot dry days. It is bad enough to have to put up with the heat every time we walk outside, but we also have to pay for the electricity to cool us down whenever we are inside. Last week electric bills came out and if yours was anything like mine they were among the highest I have ever had in any of my businesses or at home. I was feeling sorry for myself until a friend showed me his bill for electricity from the big city of Dallas. In the urban areas the customer can “shop around” for a cheaper rate rather easily because of deregulation, and he had chosen TXU for his power after several changes that did not end up being a good deal. What was really interesting was comparing the actual rate for a unit of electricity from the big city options and the small rural community like Mason. This month our customers in Mason are paying 12.38 cents per kWh, which is the basic billable unit of electricity, and my friend in the metroplex, after shopping around, paid 17.47 cents per kWh !! Most times it seems that everything costs more in small towns but right now, even though we are all paying a lot for electricity, it is actually 5 cents cheaper for each kWh here in Mason, and each of us use several hundred, or even thousands, every month. Our goal in City business is to provide excellent service at a fair cost to our citizens and this was one of those examples where the difference is measured in pennies, but the real savings is many dollars and our electric department provides excellent service every day.

Another significant area where the City is working to provide excellent service at a fair cost to our citizens is the Public Water Service that flows throughout town every day. During the past six weeks we have completed several improvements to our water distribution system and everything seems to be working very well. Last week we finished draining the standpipe up by the fort, and now it is off-system and ready for some much needed and longstanding repairs. In addition, during the past couple of months the water crew has replaced three fire hydrants and dealt with several leaks in the old water mains. Because of these water repairs we have had to put out several boiled water notices in very specific neighborhoods and for a very limited times; these are always in effect just for the time needed to take water samples and have them tested and verify the cleanliness of our water in that area. I have heard rumors that we are having problems, but the facts are that our water supply is excellent and the recent number of repairs and notices are just a result of extra work being done lately. We also hear questions about the Radium and Gross Alpha contaminations in our water, but these are the result of naturally occurring radioactive materials in the granite formations our water comes from. We have tested and identified certain wells that have elevated readings, and by managing the frequency of pumping from various wells, among the seven water wells we operate, we are seeing a reduction in the average readings and we anticipate managing the problem into compliance in the near future. I am also working on some other optional solutions that might provide clean and uncontaminated water to our citizens even sooner.

The other major project in our water system is the “looping” of our water mains around town. This will provide better and more uniform water pressure in all of our neighborhoods, and the first section was the area around the Mason School campus so that we could provide plenty of water for fire suppression in that area. Just this morning I received a letter notifying us that we will be receiving a grant for $200,000 to help in the next phases of this project. We have begun budgeting for the next two phases and this grant should ensure that we can move forward with that work. These phases will involve placing a 10” water main on the entire north side of town and will provide for much better water pressure throughout that area. I will be providing more information as we move forward in the next several months, and I expect that with this project we will be working towards providing plenty of water in some areas that are often overlooked. Mason is a great hometown, and we are working to make it even better for the future generations that will call this home.

Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley

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