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Salmon River school board approves water pact with town of Fort Covington

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FORT COVINGTON –– After repeated delays, the Salmon River Central School Board of Education has to approve an agreement with the town of Fort Covington for the town to provide water service to the school district.

The vote came despite the absence of two board members, Michael Conners and Jason McDonald. The absence of one or more board members had been cited as the reason a vote on the contract had been postponed at two prior board meetings.

SRCS Superintendent Jane Collins said the board decided to hold the vote despite the missing members because “the board wanted to proceed.”

The vote to approve the contract was 5-2, with board members Emily Lauzon and Sheila Marshall voting against the agreement.

Fort Covington officials had approved the contract last month.

SRCS in April chose Fort Covington’s proposal to serve as the municipal water source for the school district over a competing proposal submitted by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, according to previous reports. Fort Covington proposed a cost of $2.2 million with an annual charge for water of $23,300. The school district has a $2.4 million budget for the water system project, which was included in the district capital project that was approved by voters in October.

Ms. Lauzon and Ms. Marshall, both members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, had voted against the selection of Fort Covington as the district’s municipal water provider.

Last year, the state Department of Health mandated that Salmon River find a replacement for its water system after the district’s geothermal heating and cooling system leaked in 2010, contaminating the well where school draws its water, earlier reports state. A water test last year found trace levels of acetone in the district’s water supply. The school has been working closely with the Department of Environmental Conservation to remove the traces of acetone, a by-product of ethanol breakdown, since last year.

The water project now enters the design phase, Ms. Collins said, with construction on the water line expected to begin in the spring or early summer. The agreement calls for the water line to be completed by July 1, 2016, she said.

“Everybody’s happy and ready to move on at this point,” Ms. Collins said.

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