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Self-help project expands

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — The forecast for water coming to Pridemore Road soon remains good, as officials prepare to launch Carroll County's second self-help utility project.

On the heels of a self-help program to Happy Hollow Road that wrapped up last summer, 30 people on Pridemore plan to work together to bring public water to their own community this year.

Starting in March, weather permitting, neighborhood residents will help install the 9,800 linear feet of six-inch waterline to the 23 residences there.

T.M. Jones, one of the people who's been helping organize the project for the neighborhood on Pridemore, said he's seeing more water now than in the last 15 years.

That might not always be the case, however, he noted. He and his neighbors feel pretty good about the self-help water project coming to their road.

"It'll be awful handy when the stream goes dry," he said.

He and most of his neighbors plan to work Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays when the construction period starts.

As he worked for Galax Plumbing and Heating in the 1970s, Jones has some practical experience in this kind of thing.

The start date might be in March now, but with the foot of snow still on the ground and four to five feet in the rights of way where it was pushed, Jones wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't get underway until April.

The self-help effort is not only a boon for the residents that won't have to depend on wells or other sources for their water, but it's also a bargain, according to estimates from the Carroll County Public Service Authority.

Building the water project conventionally, with a contractor doing a turnkey job, would approach $467,000, according to the estimates.

At the same time, the estimate shows the total for a Self-Help project would be $220,000 with the Carroll County Public Service Authority only covering $5,000 of that.

The estimate lists the community development block grant as covering $215,000 of the costs.

Even that self-help estimate proved high as the materials bid came into the Carroll PSA at $69,011 from Consolidated Pipe and Supply of Roanoke. Officials initially thought that materials could cost as much as $104,000.

Pridemore's project counts as the 42nd self-help effort in Virginia, said Jimmy Wallace, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development official who oversees the program.

"That continues to amaze me that we've had that many communities that are willing to help themselves to water," he told The Gazette. "I'm optimistic that they'll have a successful project — Happy Hollow certainly was."

Pridemore residents will also realize certain other intangible benefits, such as working alongside each other and getting to visit with their neighbors while working, Wallace said. That's kind of a reward in itself.

He feels fortunate to be able to bring this program to communities across the state.

"This program is not for everybody," he said. "For those communities where they are interested and willing it seems to have really fulfilled a need."