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TTA officials impressed with renovation

Jul. 25, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Board members for the Tri-State Transit Authority christened their newly renovated headquarters with a meeting and tour Wednesday in Huntington.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., will join state and local dignitaries for Friday's noon ribbon-cutting ceremony, but Wednesday was an opportunity for TTA's board of directors to appreciate the yearlong, nearly $2-million renovation.

The board's treasurer, Bernard Queen, repeatedly used the word "impressed." He particularly mentioned the extra floor of space and its upgraded technology.

"We've had them cramped and all of that stuff for many years," he said. "The building itself, from the outside, is impressive. Compared to what we've had before, I was impressed when I just drove up."

The project added a second floor to TTA's administrative headquarters and gutted much of the existing lower level. That made way for a new training room and two dark rooms to combat driver fatigue, along with an expanded kitchen and recreation area.

The second level will house several administrative offices, a board room and another kitchen. The general manager's office had long tripled as his work area, a training room and board room.

"We're ecstatic," said Paul Davis, TTA's general manager. "This will be a really nice facility for TTA's employees and the staff. We're going to have a first-rate place where we can properly train our drivers and mechanics. Ultimately, at the end of the day hopefully we can give better service."

Also on the first floor are expanded dispatching centers, and, like the rest of the building, those are fully equipped with updated technology, surveillance and are fully handicap accessible. The first floor was built in 1974 and had been renovated since, but nothing to this project's extent.

Federal funds to the tune of $1.23 million covered the majority of the project. The state was scheduled to chip in another $308,000, while TTA planned on using $341,232 in local funds to cover remaining construction needs and contingency.

In other news, Davis told the board negotiations continue with TTA's labor union. The contract expired July 1, however it was extended until Aug. 15 as negotiations progress. Davis said he thinks both sides will reach a tentative agreement in mid-August.

Scott Stultz, chief financial officer for TTA, also provided board members with a preliminary look at numbers for fiscal year 2012-13. That included revenues that exceeded the budget by $92,000, or 11 percent, and operating expenses that fell $720,000, or 10 percent, below budget.

Stultz attributed the cost savings to cheaper fuel prices, two unfilled maintenance positions and five operators off work or on unpaid sick leave.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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