Aulander receives sewer grant

Published 10:22 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

AULANDER – The town of Aulander has been awarded $1,741,549 in funding by the Community Development Block Grant for Infrastructure Program.

The award is part of the $119 million in funding for Drinking Water and Wastewater Projects announced by Governor Pat McCrory last week. These loans and grants are designed to help towns across North Carolina pay for 50 much-needed drinking water and wastewater projects.

“Clean water and reliable infrastructure are essential to health, quality of life, and economic growth,” the Governor said in a press release. “With this funding, towns can protect their water quality and become more economically competitive.”

More than $500 million in projects have been funded since January 2014 through the state’s water infrastructure authority.

“Many smaller towns would struggle to pay for critical repairs and modernization of their aging water and sewer infrastructure without these funds,” said Kim Colson of the state’s Division of Water Infrastructure.

“We are proud to help North Carolina communities tackle the challenge of maintaining viable, safe and efficient systems for their citizens,” Colson added.

The Aulander funding is the ninth project of 10 on the state priority listing. It’s the fifth-most awarded project and will be for improvements to the town’s sewer system.

Aulander mayor Larry Drew lauded the project when informed of his town’s selection.

“I’m just ecstatic,” the mayor effused. “This is the fourth time we’ve applied and we’re just very fortunate to be selected.”

Drew says the Aulander Town Council has been working with the town’s engineering firm, the Wooten Company out of Greenville, on the grant applications.

“Together they’ve all worked hard to get this information together to submit,” Drew added. “Despite our not receiving good news three previous times, we just kept applying.”

The Community Development Block Grant for Infrastructure Program is used to build public water and sewer infrastructure in areas where the percentage of low-to-moderate income residents is at least 51 percent. $14.1 million total in funding has been made available to the state’s counties and municipalities according to the Governor’s office.

Drew says one thing in Aulander’s favor was that the scoring has changed.

“We were better able to document what we had based on coming so close three previous times,” Drew said. “The scope and area all combined to our benefit.”

The mayor went on to say his entire town is positively impacted by the work to be done. Improvements include to some parts of the town’s sewer system that were originally built in the 1920’s and ‘30’s.

“Improvements will be scattered throughout the town,” Drew indicated. “We have prioritized the work by first being able to demonstrate what in the sewer system needs the most work. Certainly the oldest lines would need the greatest repairs.”

The mayor also outlined the process for citizens who want to add their input.

“Now that the grant has been awarded, sometime in the next 60 days we will be holding public hearings that will include members of the engineering firm (the Wooten Co.), and then they will begin drawing up the plans,” Drew said.

Once the input is taken, the plans drawn, Drew says the town will then begin taking bids on the work. For the most recent wastewater treatment improvement grant, which the town received three years ago, it was approved in 2014-15. After that, the town made its final selection from five bids that were submitted and the work began in April of last year. It was completed by November.

“If all goes as planned, we hope to start on it by the fall,” Drew maintained.

With the approval of the CDBG grant, the mayor says the town now turns its sights on getting approval of a parks-and-recreation grant (as part of the NC State Parks’ Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, or PARTF).

PARTF provides dollar-for-dollar matching grants to local governments for parks and recreational projects to serve the public. It’s also the primary source of funding to build and renovate facilities in the state parks as well as to buy land for new and existing parks.

“If we get this grant we hope to be able to add recreational facilities in the town for youth, adults, and seniors,” Drew said.