Without progress an area dies. But progess doesn’t come cheap.   

As Hancock County works towards making itself competitive for economic and residential development, the infrastructure is critical.  One of the greatest challenges in communities dating back to the 1800’s are water and sewer systems that are antiquated and in some areas of the county non-existent.  In recent years, however, municipal and county officials have concentrated their funds and efforts towards upgrading water and sewer sysrems.  Most recently New Cumberland updated both its water and sewer systems after devoting years to acquirings grants and funding,  Chester is currently in the process of performing much needed upgrades to its water and sewer system. 

     For over 100 years,  Newell benefited from the largesse of Homer Laughlin.   It truly was a company town with Homer Laughlin owning even the bridge to East Liverpool.  While the other water/sewage systems were owned and operated by publics service district, Newell’s 1,000 customers relied on the Newell Company , owned by Homer Laughlin, to provide for its water and Sewage needs.                .

   In light of challenges to the pottery industry

from foreign competition the sale of Homer Laughlin, the Newell Company, asked the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) to be designated a failing utility in 2022.  The commission issued an order on February 23, 2023, that Hancock Public Service District and Tomlinson Public Service District acquire Newell.

Hancock PSD was to pay $1.36 million for the 425-customer service base system and Tomlinson was to pay 1.63 million do the 650-customer water system.

Quite a burden for the two New Cumberland-based-systems to take on.  On Nov. 23,2023 Hancock PSD petitioned the commission to reopen the case.  It expected to have to make repairs of $9.1 million to the system, but an engineering study it commissioned said the repairs would cost, instead, from $10.5 million to $15.5 million.

The petition said the West Virginia Insfrastructure development council denied thr Hancock PSD.

 Hancock then was to reopen the case to review all matters including the acquisition price.

Since Tomlinson acquired the Newell Company work has begun on Phase I of the upgrade to the water treatment plant on Newell Heights.  While the average water bill in Newell was $34.75 for 1,400 gallons the cost will now increase to $49.65 for 1.400 gallons.  Phase II of the project is supposed to get under in January 2026 to replace the lead and copper pipes.

t prog