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Grants keep Fries water flowing

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

FRIES — Grants and federal stimulus funds are keeping the water and sewer systems in Fries flowing after the town received an additional $124,450 last month.

During its regular meeting Sept. 1, Town Manager Brian Reed gave council the good news that Fries was awarded two grants from the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission — $74,450 for wastewater improvements and $50,000 for water system improvements.

The grants are from the planning district's Southwest Virginia Regional Water/Wastewater Construction Fund.

Reed told council that the $74,450 will help supplement American Restoration and Recovery Act funding that was allocated to the town last month.

Grayson County received more than $6 million in federal ARRA funding for 12 bridge repair/replacement projects, with the Town of Fries being granted $309,200 for a sewer line replacement.

Reed said the new grant monies will cover the engineering fees associated with the sewer line replacement, while the ARRA funding will actually pay for the infrastructure.

The town may also have left over monies to use from the ARRA funding. After advertising for bids, Reed said four bids were accepted — with the low bid coming from Prillaman and Pace Inc. of Martinsville for $180,410.

Reed said he was unsure at this time if the town would be able to use the left over money for additional projects or if it would have to be returned to the Department of Environment Quality.

“We are waiting to hear from the DEQ on what — if anything — we can use the balance of that money for,” Reed told council. “Because it is stimulus money, it may have to be returned.”

Along with the wastewater updates, Fries will have $50,000 to put towards upgrades to the town's water system, as well.

Originally, the grant was to replace a filter at the water plant, which the town has been trying to do for the last three years.

Reed said the costs continue to rise for the filter, but the $50,000 will at least give the town some money to start with.

The town has applied for other grant money to replace the filter, but in the meantime, it may use some of the PDC money for other repairs.

Reed said he has spoken with plant manager Fred Kirby on other possible projects the money could be used for, and expected some things to be done shortly.