By Peggy Mackenzie
At one of the longest Lewisburg City Council meetings on record, a major water system upgrade project for the City was announced by City Manager Jacy Faulkner.
Through a long series of agreements and resolutions involving “our council and a whole team of people across the state,” the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has agreed to fund Lewisburg’s water system, focusing on the plant and the water intake site.
The funds will comprise of a grant totaling $3,684,000 and a loan for $33,834,000 from the USDA, which will benefit 4,194 residential customers, 611 commercial customers, and 104 public authority and industrial users as part of a nationwide USDA investment of $635 million to improve water systems in 42 states through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program, according to a press statement from Congresswoman Carol Miller.
A number of agreements are required for approval by city council, which are typical for projects and loans of this size, stated Cassie Lawson with Region 4 Planning and Development Council. She credited City Engineer Greg Belcher as a driving force in achieving the letter of conditions. “It took a lot of heavy lifting to get here. Kudos to the city,” she exclaimed.
The project list includes upgrades the city has needed for a long time, chief of which is moving the location where the city get its water from the Greenbrier River. The relocation will be two miles north of its current site, putting it upstream of both the landfill and a salvage yard. A 24-inch pipeline will finish the upgrades to the water treatment plant, increasing its capacity to 4,000 gallons a minute. Other upgrades include replacing several 18-inch lines, replacing the Yates water tank with a new 500,000-gallon tank, and much more.
Residents will recall an upcoming water rate increase, approved last May, will begin on Jan. 15, 2020, in order to secure this funding.
Etten said, “We are talking about a significant amount of money here.” With 15 years of council experience, he said, “…I want to make sure that I am not overlooking something that an expert would say is obvious. I want to be informed.” Lawson said Region 4 is willing to facilitate and make more information and training available to the city. All agreements and resolutions were passed unanimously.
In other business:
A resolution proposed by former Council member Johns was brought forward for review. Mayor Beverly White asked, “Is this a resolution that would help or hurt the city?” After a few remarks, the resolution was dismissed in a 5-0 vote.
Mayor White appointed Seams to the public safety committee and new Council member Joshua Edwards to serve on the public works committee.
Council approved allocation of video lottery funds to the Greenbrier East Spartan Band for $4,002 toward funding for buses for an upcoming band trip to Florida.
A special municipal election was called for Feb. 29, 2020, to approve the levy for the 2020/2021 fiscal year. The vote is only a renewal; the rate will not increase.