Hillsville, Fries on stimulus priority list

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

It appears two local projects still in the running to get state water and sewer stimulus funds belong to Hillsville and Fries.

The state received a total of 294 applications, requesting more than $1.36 billion for water and sewer projects, but Virginia only received a total of $77 million from the federal government.

Hillsville's submission — to install a new interceptor line on West Grayson Street and update a troublesome pump station on U.S. 58 — has made it onto a draft priority list complied by the Department of Environmental Quality Construction Assistance Program.

Inclusion on the list means that the state agency is considering Hillsville for $552,900 in funding to complete that sewer work.

Town Manager Larry South will meet with DEQ officials Tuesday as part of an information gathering process by both parties. DEQ wants to know if Hillsville's sewer project is “shovel-ready” so the town can spend the stimulus funds quickly and get it flowing back into the economy.

If the project can get done in six to eight months, there's a chance it could get stimulus money.

Thanks to a grant from Southern Rivers, Hillsville got $24,000 to pay for a preliminary engineering report for this work, South said. The engineering report was completed in time for the town to submit this sewer work for consideration.

"It would be a significant improvement, as far as service issues go, and cut down on potential overflows," he said. "It would upgrade the backbone of our sewer system on both sides of town," in conjunction with other work that's already completed.

Interceptor lines that carry sewage to the treatment plant north of town would be relatively new.

Localities made many more requests that the state has money to fund, and DEQ officials continue to whittle the list down. Out of several water and sewer projects submitted to the state from Carroll, this is the only one to show up on the priority project list.

"We're on the list," South said. "This is the only one we've got any feedback on."

Fries also made it on to the priority list. If approved, it could potentially receive $309,200.

According to Fries Town Manager Brian Reed, the money requested was to replace 2,700 feet of a sewer main that serves downtown.

Although $383,650 was requested for the project, the DEQ removed the engineering costs to come up with the lower number.

Reed is scheduled to meet with DEQ officials on Tuesday to learn more about the possible funding.

“I think it's a good thing that we're on the list out of 294 applicants,” Reed said. “But I still don't know how strong that is.”