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Dirt flies for sewer project

June 1, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

BELVEDERE - Work began a couple of weeks ago on the $11.4 million Crestview-Belvedere sewer project, but the county's water and sewer department held an official groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Thursday at the Belvedere Firehouse.

The county has been under a state mandate to install sewers in the community for about 20 years. The cost per household was about $20,000 to install the sewers until a group of residents and county officials began searching for grant money. The sewers will serve about 330 homes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the county $5,884,000 in loans, with a 2.75 percent interest rate, and $4,979,000 in grants. The county also was able to obtain $200,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission, $250,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $168,000 through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Article Photos

WORK BEGINS — The Jefferson County Water and Sewer Department held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the Belvedere Firehouse to mark the start of the $11.4 million Crestview-Belvedere sewer project. Participating were, from left, Aaron Pennington, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency environmental specialist; Wayne Township Trustee Dr. Brian Wilson; Phyllis Schaab, MS Consultants engineer; Shannan Gosbin, county water and sewer department director; county Commissioners Thomas Graham and David Maple; Tony Logan, U.S. Department of Agriculture state rural development director; county Commissioner Tom Gentile; Candy Newburn, representing her husband, Wayne Newburn, a Wayne Township trustee; state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville; and Greg DiDonato, Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association executive director. - Mark Law

The grants and low-interest loans lowered the assessment cost to homeowners to about $6,000.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham thanked the residents who worked to get the state and federal funding.

County Commissioner David Maple said he came into office with the project sitting on the table.

"We need to do as much as we can not to pollute and, as leaders, create infrastructure to improve the community. It is an exciting project to get done, and I know a lot of people tried to get it done," Maple said.

Rudzik Excavating of Struthers was awarded the contract for installing the sewers. The company is completing the Pottery Addition sewer project. Utility Contracting Inc. of Youngstown is building the pump stations.

Maple said he is confident the contractors will do a good job.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said many government agencies and citizens worked together to get the project funded.

Tony Logan, U.S. Department of Agriculture state rural development director, said the money from his agency came from federal economic stimulus funding. He said much of the money Ohio got in stimulus money went into rural communities.

"The goal at the U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development is to create sustainable local communities fortified with good infrastructure so the communities can move forward. It creates a better quality of life for residents," he said.

Probate-Juvenile Judge Sam Kerr, who lives in Crestview, said when he moved to his home 40 years ago his wife, Emily, said she would never see the sewers. "Now she can see it."

He said no one had the political courage to take on the project, but the current commissioners did.

Domenick Mucci, Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission director, said the the guarantees of funding didn't come without tough decisions by the commissioners. He said the commissioners had to increase sewer rates to prove loan payments could be made.

Shannan Gosbin, county water and sewer department director, said behind all the grants was a lot of hard work by her staff.

State Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, said the project gives him hope that residents can petition government for help.

"We still struggle today for basic infrastructure, such as water and sewers. This demonstrates that government on all levels can work together," he said.

State Rep. Jack Cerra, D-Bellaire, said there are similar projects that need to be done all over eastern Ohio.

The county water and sewer department is in the process of designing upgrades to the Barbers Hollow wastewater treatment plant to handle the increased flow from the Crestview-Belvedere area.

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