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DeWine: Barnesville getting $2.2M grant for water upgrades

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Barnesville Mayor Dale Bunting, left, Village Administrator Roger Deal, right, and others welcome Ohio first lady Fran DeWine on Tuesday. She announced Barnesville has received a $2.2 million grant for a major water project.

BARNESVILLE — The village water system will get a major upgrade, thanks to grant funding from the state.

Fran DeWine, traveling around the state on behalf of her husband Gov. Mike DeWine, visited the Barnesville Fire Department on Tuesday to announce the award.

“I’m happy to announce that Barnesville will be receiving a total of $2.2 million for a very important infrastructure project that won’t only impact their community, but others as well,” she said. “This grant will be used to pay for a new pump station, and it will also be used to replace the aging waterline that runs from Slope Creek Reservoir to your water treatment plant.”

She said she, her husband, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and others were criss-crossing the state Tuesday announcing recipients of grants as part of the Ohio BUILDS (Broadband, Utilities, Infrastructure for Local Development Success) program.

Mrs. DeWine said she was happy to share the news and help guarantee Ohioans access to clean, reliable drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

“Nothing is more important than having plentiful, clean and safe water, and yet there are communities right now in Ohio facing serious threats to their water quality, such as the harmful algal blooms at Lake Eerie and other bodies of water, and our failing septic systems,” she said. She said that on Tuesday, the state was awarding more than $50 million in grant funds aimed at water infrastructure. Overall, $250 million will be given for water and wastewater infrastructure in the coming weeks.

“Every county will be helped,” she said.

DeWine added that the Barnesville project would improve 3,700 water connections, including about 150 businesses.

“This will give the water system the ability to expand more and potentially serve more communities in this area,” she said. “We only expect Barnesville to continue growing.”

Local officials elaborated on some details of the plan.

“The project is to replace the Slope Creek waterline,” Village Administrator Roger Deal said. “That’s our biggest reservoir, our biggest water source with 750 million gallons of water. It was installed in 1963 when the reservoir was built, and it has a concrete asbestos waterline that travels to the plant.”

Deal said the village now serves nine communities and outlying areas in four counties: Belmont, Noble, Monroe and Guernsey.

“When it was put in, it was put in for the village of Barnesville, which was only about 4,500 residents. And since then our system has grown and grown and grown, and now we’re into a portion of four counties,” he said. “We’re looking to size up, get a bigger line, put it in a better route that we can maintain easier.”

The 12-inch asbestos and concrete line will be replaced with a 16-inch plastic line. He said village leaders have been planning the project for five years and had secured funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission, the Appalachian Regional Commission and assistance from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This is the final puzzle piece,” he said. “It’s about a $5.5 million project.”

In addition, the grant will mean no debt or cost increases associated with the upgrades.

Deal said officials expect to bid the project out in April and start construction by August, with completion 10-12 months afterward.

“We’ll continue to be good neighbors. We supply water to neighboring communities,” Deal said, adding Barnesville would be able to supply water to even more communities once the work is complete.

He said this is a recognition of the area’s activity and potential for growth.

“We’ve got two industrial parks that are growing and doing well. We’ll continue to supply water to them. We think most of the growth is going to happen in this area of the county, because we have the land,” Deal said.

Mayor Dale Bunting expressed appreciation for the support from the state.

“This grant that we are receiving means a lot to our community and the surrounding areas,” Bunting said. “It’s just a win-win situation for the community. … It’s bound to help because we have two industrial parks now and if the oil and gas continues to grow, the industrial parks are going to grow, too. … There’ll be more people moving into the area.”

Rob Miller, president of the Barnesville Exempted Village Board of Education, said water service improvements will be invaluable to the district. Other local leaders agreed.

“It’s great that they got this. We need help in those areas,” Belmont County Commissioner Jerry Echemann said. “I know this money will be put to good use in the projects they’ve laid out. … It’s a great day, and we’re honored to have Mrs. DeWine.”

“I wish that more communities kind of had the vision that Barnesville has,” Belmont County Commissioner J.P. Dutton said.

“Barnesville, 50, 60 years ago, their forefathers planned way ahead in developing the reservoir. It’s going to allow their continued expansion,” Belmont County Port Authority Director Larry Merry said.

“This project not only benefits Barnesville, it also benefits the Switzerland Water District in Monroe County, so we are very pleased,” Monroe County Commissioner Mick Schumacher said.

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