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Ahoskie poised for future growth

AHOSKIE – The investment for future growth made by the Roanoke-Chowan area’s largest municipality is now poised to reap dividends.

Beginning in 2009, Ahoskie officials physically launched several projects aimed at progressively moving the town forward as well as positioning itself to attract future residents and businesses.

On Tuesday, the Ahoskie Town Council listened to an update from Dan Boone, the town’s engineer from The Wooten Company, in regards to several ongoing projects which Ahoskie has made significant investments.

Boone praised the Council and other town officials for their proactive approach.

“Ya’ll have been very busy over the last year,” Boone said. “The wastewater treatment plant, the annexation project and the recreation park have resulted in a great benefit for construction firms in these tough economic times.

“Those projects have generated in excess of $20 million in construction projects here, providing jobs for people,” Boone continued. “The timing for you to save couldn’t have been better as these firms were bidding as much as 20 percent below what is normal. It allowed ya’ll to get a very good price on these projects.”

Boone said the new, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant – one valued at over $17 million, is still scheduled to go on line in March of next year. He said the T.A. Loving Company, the project’s general contractor, was doing quite well to meet the deadline.

“We believe he will finish early despite a problem with having one piece of equipment not yet delivered,” Boone stated. “It is manufactured overseas and delivery, to date, is late.”

Boone explained the delayed equipment was an ultra-violet disinfection system.

“It’s a fairly complex piece of equipment that once in place will be the final piece that brings everything there together,” Boone said.

Boone added that T.A. Loving subcontractors are now in the process of grading the area, including the roads.

Utilities Plus, a firm hired to install the pipeline from the wastewater plant to the Ahoskie Creek, has completed its work at a cost of $236,361.

Boone said the completion date for the treatment plant was March 21, 2011.

“T.A. Loving does have a backlog of days they can claim due to weather delays, but they have done a good job mitigating those bad weather days and are on or ahead of schedule,” Boone noted. “They have not asked for an extension.”

He continued, “We should see some water begin flowing into the wastewater treatment plant by the first part of January for testing purposes. By the end of January we may see treated water coming out.”

Another Ahoskie project – pavement repair and correcting drainage issues on Snipes Street – has been completed. Those maintenance issues were addressed thanks the influx of $49,649.20 from a Community Development Block Grant.

Meanwhile, two other projects, while divided, are actually under the same umbrella.

Boone said the contractor has finished installing the water lines to the newly annexed portions of Ahoskie.

“The annexation project is broken into two projects,” Boone said. “Hendrix-Barnhill completed the water lines in October and the system is in operation to the newly annexed areas at a price of $305,000 which was lower than the bid price ($335,495). You saw some savings there.”

Now the town is setting its sights on providing sanitary sewer service to those same annexed areas. The cost of that project is estimated at $2.8 million. USDA will fund 43 percent of that cost through a grant; the remainder will come from a loan.

Boone said that project has been advertised and bids are scheduled to be taken Dec. 6.

“We’re ready to proceed on that project,” Boone said. “We need to have the construction complete by June 30 (2011), that’s a key date.”

“This part of the project was a nightmare trying to get deeds and easements from people who do not live here,” Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond noted. “In some cases we didn’t know how to get in contact with those we needed easements from. We had one case where we needed an easement for a pump station and every name on the deed was deceased. We started on this back in February and didn’t finish until the latter part of October. It took us a lot longer than anticipated.”

Hammond echoed Boone’s remarks about the importance of completing the sewer project to the new annexed areas by June of next year.

“Once this project is issued those guys have a deadline and they will know what that deadline is,” Hammond said. “It was advertised in the bid that they must meet the deadline.”

The final project – the Ahoskie Creek Recreational Complex – is basically complete with the exception of a few “punch list” items. That project came with a $1.45 million price tag.

“That work turned out very good, it’s a project the town should be very proud of,” Boone said of the recreational facility.

Hammond noted that an AAU (Amateur Athletics Union) representative has been contacted and has shown interest in coming to Ahoskie to look at the new ballfields. It is hopeful that AAU will add the town to the stops on its baseball/softball circuit as early as next year.

There are plans to expand the recreational facility to include a dog park, splash (water) park, additional walking trails and adding a parking lot. Currently, the town is seeking grants to help pay for that expansion.

“There is a lot of competition for limited dollars,” Boone said in reference to the possible sources for grant funding. “We will do our very best to pump up Ahoskie’s grant application.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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