Infrastructure work to begin across McMinn County after three CDBG awards

18 Sep 2020

A few local communities have been awarded Community Block Development Grants (CDBG) to help with their infrastructure needs.

Across the state, 66 communities received various amounts of grant money totaling over $27 million.  McMinn County received $630,000 for the extension of water lines. County Mayor John Gentry stated that it has always been a priority to partner with the seven different utilities that provide water into McMinn County. “This project is for county roads 38, 50 and 51. It is more of a rural area and it is also going to enhance the utility system to allow them to loop some  lines,” he said. “Anytime that you can do that it just makes for a better run system: to be able to loop that water so you don’t have any dead ends out there.” Gentry expressed his excitement to be able to provide water lines out to the families that live on those roads.

“I was raised on well water and there is always some uncertainty that comes with wells in times of drought and what may seep in to the ground water supply, so these wells in the area are always sampled and that is what drives the competitive nature for these grants,” stated Gentry. “It looks like we are currently looking at about 34 houses since this is a more rural area but this also allows for future development with a dependable municipal water supply.” He believes the project is around 40% completed and now that the grant has been approved, he hopes to
have the work nished within a year.

Both the City of Athens and the City of Niota were awarded CDBG grants where they each received $630,000 for improvements to their respective sewer systems.

Athens City Manager C. Seth Sumner stated the grant was much needed to help the Athens Utilities Board “go a long way” with making the sewer system improvements. “It is one of the biggest needs of our utility and it is wonderful to have the state support with our grant dollars coming back home and going to improve this much needed utility to our citizens and businesses,” he said.

Craig Brymer, the superintendent of water and waste water for AUB expressed his gratitude for the grant. “We are very thankful for any kind of assistance that we can get in this project that is much needed in our wastewater system,” said Brymer. “We have, for decades, battled excess rain water getting into our system and older facilities which lead to wastewater overows and this money will help us put together a comprehensive plan of action to help that situation out.” He noted the plan wouldn’t “necessarily” eliminate all of the problems, however it is “a step in the right
direction.” One of the projects they wish to utilize the grant for is to replace the current Cedar Springs Pump Station.
“It has provided good service but it is at the end of its useful life right now so instead of just replacing it we are going to replace it with a larger station that has additional capacity and making modications to another pump station to help move water around in our collection system to where we can manage it best and get it to our treatment facilities in the most efcient way,” Brymer explained.

Lois Preece, the mayor of Niota, expressed her excitement for receiving the grant. “Our sewer system is over 40 years old and basically replacing the aerator, sewer lines and manholes in addition to the work at the plant itself,” she said. “Some of the environmental work will probably start in October or November ... We have to get the paperwork in by the end of September, which is a very short turn around to get the paperwork started but we will meet all of our deadlines. The paperwork is coming in and we know what to do with it.” She stated the work on the sewers is a necessity. “Our sewer plant is so old that these repairs really need to be made,” said Preece. “We are very thankful to
have the money to do it. It keeps us in compliance. Though we are in compliance right now, this will take care of the future years and it would be hard for the city to raise this much money to get this work that needs to be done.”