Funding flows for 52 water project

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HILLSVILLE — Funding is flooding in for a project to improve water service along U.S. 52 on the south side of Hillsville, including better pressure, larger lines and increased flow to aid in fire protection.

One factor driving the improvement project is the U.S. 58 bypass under construction in Hillsville, which is expected to spur new construction on the south side of town. So, engineers with Anderson & Associates designed a project that will improve service now and answer future needs.

The latest piece of funding was a $150,000 grant form the state’s Southwest Virginia Regional Water/Wastewater Construction Fund, secured through the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission.

Commission Executive Director David Barrett along with Chris Gilley were on hand during a regular meeting of the Hillsville Town Council to present the money.

Barrett said he was pleased to be at the meeting to, “do some fun things.”

“The fun thing is to present the town with a check for $150,000 to go towards the Motley Hill Water Project,” Barrett told council.

The grant money was made possible after local legislators in Southwest Virginia pushed for the General Assembly to provide some money to this end of the state.

“With this program we are able to provide localities with matching grants,” said Barrett of the construction fund program.

The town also tapped into the funding in 2007 and received $150,000 then for the same project.

Hillsville Mayor Bill Tate gladly accepted the check and said, “this will go a long way.”

Hillsville Town Council applied to the Virginia Department of Health and several other funding sources for assistance. As of August, it had received a total of $1,451,663 for the project in the form of grants and loans.

The Virginia Department of Health awarded the town a 30-year, no-interest loan to finance part of the project, from a state program that provides assistance for disadvantaged homeowners. To qualify, the project had to reach users with a lower-than-median household income and to address outstanding health issues.

The health department contributed two grants of $25,000 each for design and planning.

Council awarded construction bids totaling $1.71 million in August — to West Virginia Pipeline Inc. in the amount of $1.04 million for the main project and to Mid Atlantic Storage Systems Inc. in the amount of $363,875 for the second phase of the project, which includes a new water storage tank south of the town limits.

The base of the new tank will allow the storage facility to be doubled in the future, allowing the town to better phase construction and costs.

Town Manager Larry South said in August that he’d reviewed Hillsville’s general fund and found that it could afford to cover the $250,000 gap between the project cost and the grants and loans the town has received.

With the planning district grant, the town now has to cover just a $100,000 deficit.

“We’re in good shape to move forward,” South said.

Hillsville received permission from Carroll officials to build part of the project in the county. The project is attractive to county officials because it’s a way to get the availability of public water closer to the Fancy Gap community.

Town Council Member Orba Alderman asked what impact the Hillsville bypass work would have on the 52 South project.

Project manager Dennis Amos of Anderson & Associates said the 52 South work falls outside the area where the bypass is being built, so there is no conflict.

Town Attorney Greg Goad said in August that Hillsville would need to obtain easements on 10 properties for the water project.

At its Sept. 8 meeting, town council passed a resolution to issue bonds not to exceed $1.3 million for the project.

Also at that meeting, Hillsville citizen Raleigh Cooley told council members that he supported the project. “I’m in favor of anything that builds streets or extends water lines. It’s absolutely essential to building up a town.”

Cooley said bringing more people to Hillsville can create traffic problems, “but it’s a good problem to have. That means people with jobs and money are riding through town.”

Construction on the water project is expected to start soon.