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Powellsville eyes future

POWELLSVILLE – This Bertie County town may be small in numbers, but that doesn’t exclude it from having big plans.

During a Thursday afternoon gathering, interested townspeople joined with Powellsville, Windsor and Bertie County officials in a brief ceremony to open the bids for the town’s sanitary sewer project.

Two bids were received and both were promptly opened at the advertised hour of 2 p.m. The low bidder – at a cost of $5.17 million – was T.A. Loving Company of Goldsboro. The other bid ($7.76 million) came from James L. Cayton Utilities Inc. of New Bern.

A contract was not extended on Thursday to either bidder. That will come after the town exhausts all efforts to add to the current $3.75 million in grants they have received to date. The acceptable bid is also subject to approval by a majority vote of the Powellsville Town Council.

Despite the fact that a few hurdles remain for town officials to clear before the first shovel of dirt is turned on the project, Powellsville Mayor Thomas Asbell was ecstatic that the town is moving closer to offering sewer service to its citizens.

&uot;This is the proudest day this little town has ever had,&uot; Asbell said. &uot;We welcome here today all the county officials and Windsor town officials as well as citizens of Powellsville. I want to thank you all for helping to make this day possible.&uot;

Mayor Asbell paid special thanks to Windsor Mayor Bob Spivey and Windsor Town Administrators David Overton and Allen Castelloe for their efforts to aid Powellsville through this process. Through a series of pumping stations and force main lines, Powellsville will send its sewage to Windsor for treatment and discharge into the Cashie River.

The plan calls for three pumping stations – one near the Powellsville Baptist Church and one each on Snow Ave. and Bethlehem Church Road. They will collectively send the sewage to a line along Commerce Street, out to U.S. 13 South and then through 12 miles of pipe to connect with a force main sewer line at White Oak Road near Bertie High School. That force main line belongs to the town of Askewville who just recently got their sanitary sewer district up and running, also sending it to Windsor for treatment and disposal.

The majority of Powellsville’s current funds earmarked for the project came through grants from the NC Rural Center and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF).

&uot;Realistically, if we could have put this project in place two years ago, the $3.75 million we have now would have covered the cost to construct our sewer district,&uot; Asbell noted. &uot;However, increases in construction costs, especially the cost of fuel, have driven the cost approximately 25 percent higher.&uot;

The Mayor said he and Bradley Gillam of McDavid & Associates, the project engineer, would return to the previous funding sources in an effort to seek additional grants.

&uot;Our goal, as it has been throughout, is to use 100 percent grant money to build this project and then rely on user fees to operate and maintain our sanitary sewer service,&uot; Asbell said.

Gillam said a meeting is already in the works with Rural Center and CWMTF officials.

&uot;They are not promising any additional funds, but they have agreed to meet with us,&uot; Gillam stated.

Asbell said he felt extremely confident that additional funds can be secured.

&uot;We may have to go to Raleigh with our crying towels and knee pads, but I feel good about our chances,&uot; said the Mayor.

Another plus in securing additional funds is the fact that a cost, at least the one of the lowest bidder, is now attached to the project.

&uot;We now know exactly what we need,&uot; Asbell noted. &uot;We have worked extremely hard on this project for a number of years and we’re not going to let this die. The town of Powellsville will have sewer service.&uot;

Once the project costs are fully funded, Gillam said the impending contract called for a 270-day construction period.

&uot;We’re hoping to have those funds secured within the next two to three months,&uot; Gillam said.

Asbell wasn’t alone in his elation over the sewer project.

&uot;I have lived with a hope and a dream for years that all of Bertie County will have access to a public sewer service,&uot; Windsor Mayor Bob Spivey said. &uot;We are proud to work with Powellsville on this project.&uot;

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb saw the Powellsville project as a way to increase the county’s tax base.

&uot;As it is in other areas of the county, you have experienced some trouble here in Powellsville getting land to perk for residential development,&uot; Lamb said. &uot;A sewer system will take care of that. In turn that adds to the county and town tax base because now there is land where new homes can be built.&uot;