School project may bring water access

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Residents of the Grant community in western Grayson County may soon have the option to hook up to a public water system — despite added cost to the county to install it.

Grayson County Administrator Bill Ring approached the board of supervisors with information about how the county can provide water to the new Grayson Highlands School being built off Virginia 16.

After talking with engineers, Ring said, the difference in cost of a private well or extending the lines may look large at first but actually is “almost a complete wash.”

If Grayson opts to go with a private well, the cost looks to be around $600,000, which would require a 300,000-gallon reserve tank to be used for fire protection.

The new water system would cost $878,000 to extend it two miles from Troutdale, but it provides further options for funding.

Ring said Mount Rogers Planning District Commission has offered to pay for the preliminary engineering report and state representatives have expressed that $112,000 could potentially come in state money.

Funding for the new water system would also be a guarantee. Although Ring didn’t disclose who the funding agency was, he did say he had one ready to go that favors funding the entire project or whatever the county needs.

“They are willing to fund it at 2.75 percent interest rate,” said Ring. “That’s a very attractive rate.”

Along with the extra funding, the new water system would better serve the western end of Grayson as well.

Ring said there was potential not only for new customers to hook up along the water line, but also fire protection for the community — something it doesn’t have now.

“It is also part of our long-term plan to run water lines along U.S. 58, from Galax to the western end of the county,” he said.

Ring strongly suggested pursuing the new water system. “As the county administrator, it’s in [the county’s] best interest to pursue a water system in the area.”

Supervisor Larry Bartlett moved to authorize the preliminary engineering report. The motion was passed unanimously.

The preliminary engineering report will provide a more exact cost figure and a feasibility study along the entire route.

Once the board receives the report, it will decide whether to continue or look at other options.

Engineers estimated a five-month period to complete the system.

The new school was expected to open in August 2009 but appears to have fallen behind schedule, leaving the county about a year to decide and complete the project.

In other business, the supervisors:

• paid monthly bills totaling $385,921.47.

• accepted the retirement of Public Works Supervisor John Delp, effective Aug. 31.

• heard from Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority Director Neal Satterwhite. Satterwhite said the public information meeting about the state prison under construction was attended by about 500 people and that Department of Corrections representatives were pleased with not only the quantity of people showing up, but the quality of potential employees.

The corrections department will have a job fair in mid- to late-September from which it will hire 40-50 correctional officers willing to relocate for two years of training.