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Barnesville projects will get funding

BARNESVILLE — Village officials on Monday announced that two local projects had been selected for federal funding totaling over $3.5 million.

Mayor Dale Bunting announced that the long-in-the-works Slope Creek Waterline Project had been selected for funding through the Army Corps of Engineers’ Section 594 Program in the amount of $1,075,000, applicable toward project design and construction costs.

“I definitely want to thank Congressman Bill Johnson for his support, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a lot for that,” Bunting said. “It helps us and helps us keep our community water rates down and we can get this line in. It just helps all the way around. We really appreciate all the funding we’re getting for this water line. It’s a wonderful thing.”

Village Administrator Roger Deal thanked Congressman Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and the Army Corps of Engineers as well, but had someone else he felt was instrumental in the influx of funding for the project.

“‘I’ve teamed up with RCAP, the Rural Community Assistance Program, who are assisting with our water and sewer GIS mapping as well, and there’s a lady named Misty Tolzda,” Deal said . “She works for RCAP and resides in Woodsfield. We wouldn’t have gotten these funds if it weren’t for Misty. She went to bat for Barnesville and spoke with the Army Corps of Engineers. “I promised her a parade,” Deal joked. “It will have a lot of water trucks in it.”

Deal added that the funding package for the project was now complete

“There’s a lot to do yet,” he said, “but we’re ready to kick it off.”

Village officials for years have been working toward installing a new 16-inch plastic water line to transfer water the nearly five miles from the Slope Creek Reservoir to the village water system, replacing a 12-inch concrete and asbestos line that has been in place since 1963. The new line will be placed along a route that will allow for easier access and maintenance and is expected to cost $5,582,000 to construct.

According to Deal, Barnesville supplies water to over 10,000 people in four counties and future growth is expected.

Deal also announced that $2.5 million in funds from the Federal American Rescue Plan have been awarded to replace the runway and put in a new access road at Barnesville-Bradfield Airport, which is run by the Belmont County Regional Airport Authority.

Deal said that while it wasn’t a village project, he felt it was important to the community and that they had been seeking in vain to fund that project for at least 15 years, adding that they could expect to see a lot of traffic going out to the airport this summer.

Deal also announced that he had spoken with Morgan Coast of Vaughn, Coast, and Vaughn Engineering in St. Clairsville concerning the Westview Drive lift station and he had agreed to do the engineering and design for an overhaul of the station with the payment for doing so being deferred while the village awaits grant funding through the American Rescue Plan.

A number of large infrastructure projects had been discussed and prioritized during recent meetings and Councilman Tim McKelvey, eager to see progress this year while the grant money was pending, had asked Deal to see about getting the engineering and design process started on what was determined to be the most critical project.

Deal informed council that designs for upgrades to the waste water treatment plan were complete and recommended they apply to the Ohio EPA for a permit to install, saying that while it will cost $15,100 for the EPA to review the plans and issue the permit, doing so will enable them to begin to seek funding for the $7 million project.

McKelvey asked how long the permit would be valid, and Deal said he believed 18 months with small monthly fees should they require an extension. Council voted in favor of moving forward and submitting the plans for approval.

Councilman Tony Johnson said that he had taken a field trip to Charleroi, Pennsylvania, to see a water valve exercising and excavation tool set similar to one that council had discussed purchasing at the March 29 meeting.

Johnson said that after seeing it in action he was in favor of getting one, but wanted to make sure the setup came with an air powered hand held valve turner as well as the hydraulic tool since it was more portable and handy to use. He also asked about possibly buying the components a piece at a time rather than all at once.

Johnson was emphatic that if they spent the $80,000 he would expect to see it being used and that having water leaks under the street going unfixed would no longer be acceptable.

Deal said that he had received a check for $94,600 from the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation to invest in the health and safety of employees and that money would be used to make the purchase if council wished to proceed since the tools in the package would save a lot of wear and tear on the backs of village crew as they begin to implement an EPA required water valve exercise program.

Council approved the purchase with Deal saying he would double check to see what accessories were included to make sure the air powered tool Johnson had mentioned was part of the package.

Bunting announced Mayor’s Court figures from the month of March saying the state received $847.50, the county $34.50, and the village $1734.00 for a total of $2,616.

Council also approved the paying of bills in the amount of $78,485.38 and approved a building permit for Tom and Shelly Metz to demolish a house at 305 Sycamore Street.

Barnesville Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 26 at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Albert S. George Youth Center in Barnesville Memorial Park.

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