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Jacksonville gets sewer project grant

It appears after about 20 years of effort, Jacksonville’s Valentine-Wooten neighborhood finally will be getting a sewer line to treat its sewage.

In a joint press conference Tuesday morning, the Delta Regional Authority and the city of Jacksonville announced that DRA has provided $105,000 in emergency grant funding so that the 20-year-old project can be completed.

“It should be done in about four weeks,” according to Thea Hughes, general manager of the Jacksonville City Wastewater Utility.

Chris Masingill, chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, said the funding was provided after the city of Jacksonville and the office of Gov. Mike Beebe told the DRA that septic systems were failing there and the project needs to be completed for the safety of the public.

“Improving and upgrading wastewater infrastructure for public safety is key to economic growth,” Masingill said.

About 200 residents along the Valentine-Wooten Road area will receive municipal wastewater treatment service.

Once complete, it will consist of 7.5 miles of sewer line, five pump stations and 110 manholes, according to Hughes.

Hughes said the $105,000 in funds were needed to satisfy costs associated with work order changes because the project contractor brought on board in January encountered some unanticipated problems.

Masingill said the $105,000 will provide money for the:

• Repair of a large bulge in pipe that if left unattended will result in further cracking and seepage of raw sewage into residential properties;

• Completion of work on nine “change in grade” areas where the slope of the gravity sewer pipe allows sewage to travel through the system in compliance with regulations of the Arkansas Department of Health;

• Replacement and repair of defective pipes running under county roads.

“Investing in the development of our basic public infrastructure, including wastewater upgrades, will be a catalyst for creating good paying jobs and growing the economy of the Delta Region,” Masingill said.

Hughes said the 20-year-old project has cost a total of $3.5 million. She added no more delays are expected.

The project ran into major delays in 2004 when the contractor at the time did not finish the job, which stalled its progress until early in 2012. During the eight-year lag time, lawsuits ensued due to the project not being completed.

Late last year the city let out bids again for the project’s completion, and it started again in January. The final step in getting it done was getting the federal funds through Delta Regional because local authorities had run out of money to complete the job, Hughes said.

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