BUCHANAN – “Hopefully, by the end of the month, the boil water notice will be behind us,” Hal Bailey told Buchanan Town Council Monday night.
The anticipated good news was part of a brief update he gave council on the new micro-filtration water plant the town is building.
Bailey, who is with Engineering Concepts Inc. in Fincastle, designed the plant and has helped guide the town through a maze of regulations and financing options for the filtration plant that became a necessity almost 16 months ago. That’s when the Health Department issued the boil water notice for residents on town water because one of the town wells showed potential for surface water infiltration.
Bailey said the contractor has until June 19 to have the water plant “substantially complete,” which essentially means operational. Bailey said the contractor is doing a good job, and is 12-14 days behind that schedule.
Town utility department staff still has to take training on operating the plant. The micro-filtration plant manufacturer will send representatives to Buchanan for that training.
As part of the on-going work to get state and federal grant and loan money for the filtration plant, council passed a resolution approving the issue of $348,875 in general obligation bonds that will pay for 25 percent of the $1.4 million plant. The town has 30 years to repay that loan at 0 percent interest. The town also is receiving about a $1 million grant from the Health Department to cover the rest of the cost.
Mayor Tom Middlecamp had hoped the town would receive some of those funds before the plant was finished. Instead, the town has borrowed money to bridge the time between the start of construction and completion. “When we pass this resolution, we should start getting our money,” he said.
The town’s application for other grant and loan money to upgrade deteriorating water lines throughout the town is now in Washington, D.C.’s U.S. Department of Agriculture offices.
The town applied for $7.1 million grants and loans through the Rural Development program for what officials hope will be a phased upgrade to the water distribution system.
Bailey said the town is now looking at the possibility of receiving about 48 percent of the funding as a grant. The rest would be loaned to the town at 2.62 percent interest over 40 years. The town had hoped to get as much as 75 percent of the funds as a grant.
If the town’s grant/loan application is approved—and Bailey said the town’s “chances are real good”—whatever the town accepted would be based on the grant/loan ratio established by Rural Development.
The town has a second loan application in with the Health Department that would be used for water distribution upgrades. That’s for $850,000 and would be repaid over 30 years at 1.1 percent interest.
If that’s approved, Bailey said the town could likely do part of the phased approach the town expects to use to upgrade the water system.
Council also agreed to have a ceremony of some sort when the water filtration plant goes into operation.
“There’s a lot of people we need to thank and that would be a good time to do it,” Middlecamp suggested.
In other matters, council:
• Re-elected Carson Scaggs as vice-mayor. Generally, council elects the councilmember who receives the most votes in town elections to the post, but in May, Scaggs and Cleatus Newcomb tied as the top vote getters. Newcomb agreed that Scaggs should remain as vice-mayor.
• Welcomed new councilmember Della Hylton. She has served on council in the past.
• Asked the mayor to see if Norfolk Southern will re-establish the “crosswalk” between the rails in the alley next to the Episcopal church. Hylton said the railroad used to have a crosswalk there, but now it’s just the loose gravel between the ties and rails, and it’s hard to walk on.
• Approved $500 for membership renewal in the Virginia Civil War Trails program.
• Got an update from Downtown Revitalization Manager Harry Gleason who congratulated the Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department on a successful carnival, and thanked Burleigh Gilliam for continuing to volunteer to put on the fireworks shows during the carnival and on July 4th. Gleason also reported that the eighth An Evening in Buchanan, in partnership with the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce, will be Friday, Aug. 13, and Mountain Magic in Fall Festival planning is under way.
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