Rural Center funds assist wastewater project

Published 10:37 am Friday, November 25, 2011

GATESVILLE – The second major piece of grant funding is officially in place for economic development in Gates County.

During a ceremony held at the Merchants Millpond State Park Visitors Center, the North Carolina Rural Center formally presented Gates County local government with a $700,000 grant that will be used for the creation of a sewer collection system to serve a commercial/residential development area along a stretch of US 158.

County officials and special guests attended last week’s event where they heard Board of Commissioners Chairman Graham Twine say that the current round of development is just the start.

“Gates County is in a state of transition. The Gates County of my youth is not the Gates County of today,” Twine said. “Today, this county is rapidly positioning itself to become a force in economic development.

“The contributions made by so many today will allow future generations to reap the benefits,” he continued. “The work we are doing today will allow Gates County to become more self reliant. It is in this vein that the North Carolina Rural Center has awarded Gates County a $700,000 grant for use for wastewater treatment, which will serve as a catalyst for economic development.”

Twine stressed that no one individual or entity stood above others during the current wave of economic development in the county.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “We have enjoyed a great number of accomplishments together in a very short amount of time. We work well with our partners – our local citizens, our engineers, our grant writers and our developer.”

Twine thanked the NC Rural Center for their efforts to help Gates County grow and prosper.

“We look forward to working with you on other projects as we continue to seek to grow our economic development opportunities,” Twine said.

District 4 State Senator Ed Jones said he felt the $700,000 in Rural Center funding would go a long way in helping Gates County realize its dream of economic growth.

“Gates County is unique; it’s a small, rural farming community, but yet one whose dreams rival those in larger counties,” Jones noted. “Being so rural, you so often find yourself on the bottom of the food chain in Raleigh, but that has not stopped your efforts. I applaud you for your tenacity and congratulate you on this grant.”

Patrick Woodie, Vice President of Rural Development Programs for the NC Rural Center, stated he could relate to the challenges of living in a small, rural county such as Gates.

“I’m from Allegany County, the smallest county up in the northwestern part of our state,” he said. “I served a term there as a county commissioner so I know what it’s like to make the rubber meet the road. We at the Rural Center are delighted to offer Gates County this $700,000 grant to improve your water and sewer infrastructure to where you can expand business and employment opportunities. You can build a base at that development site from where this county can continue to grow. We’re your rural partners in this, working together for the common goal of improving Gates County. Call us if you have future needs.”

Joining Twine at last week’s presentation were fellow board members, Commissioners Jack Owens, Henry Jordan and Kenneth Jernigan.

“With proper leadership, forward thinking and looking at a little place like Gates County and seeing a diamond in the rough, it’s that type of vision to make things like this grant from the Rural Center happen,” Owens said. “We had so many partners in this effort. Among them was the Northeast Commission. They assisted us by bringing $5,000 to the table to help with grant writing. Another key partner was our local Gates County Chamber of Commerce.”

“These things just don’t happen all by themselves,” Jordan said of the Rural Center grant. “Our board of commissioners worked together, bouncing ideas off each other regarding ways to promote economic growth. I’m so glad to be part of a progressive board and I’m so grateful to the Rural Center for helping us move forward.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for looking at Gates County and deciding this was a very worthwhile project,” Jernigan said. “All the commissioners pushed for this. We’re so happy to be moving forward with development here in our county. I will guarantee that this money will be spent very wisely.”

Twine recognized Kim Old, the developer of Merchants Commerce Park where the wastewater system will hopefully add to a growing list of businesses already committed to build there, grant writer Mike Scott, Cavanaugh & Associates, the engineering firm for the wastewater expansion project, and Gates County government staffers – Manager Toby Chappell, Clerk Diane Hendrix, Planner Morgan Jethro and Water System Director Timmy Hedgepeth for the roles they are playing in economic development.

In addition to the Rural Center funding, Gates County has received $900,000 from the EDA (Economic Development Administration) for the wastewater project. County officials have been invited to submit an application for the second round of Golden Leaf funding for $300,000 and have submitted paperwork to CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) for $500,000. There’s another grant in the amount of $500,000 from the North Carolina Industrial Development Fund that county officials will be seeking in the coming months.

The wastewater expansion project is expected to cost between $2.5 and $3 million.

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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