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Published: Thursday, 12/18/2008

Sewer work to start in Elmore, Pemberville, but more funds are needed

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The villages of Elmore and Pemberville are embarking on major sewer projects next year, but they need to find millions of dollars worth of funding to carry their plans to completion.

In Elmore, officials expect to begin installing new sewer lines in the village in March, a project that will cost almost $2 million, Councilman Rick Claar said. The lines should be completed by Jan. 1, 2010, he said.

Once the lines are complete, Elmore plans to build a wastewater treatment plant. That would be completed in 2012. The total cost of the lines and the plant would be just more than $4 million, Mr. Claar said.

To help fund its sewer lines project, Elmore passed a 0.75 percent income tax increase in 2005. That has allowed authorities to collect almost $269,000 toward the project, fiscal officer Sheri Hayes said.

Elmore also has received a no-interest loan of $275,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the project, Ms. Hayes said.

The money is enough to start installing the sewer lines, village superintendent Buck Stoiber said. However, officials will have to apply for more money to complete the work.

Meanwhile, Pemberville plans to start next summer on a new wastewater treatment plant. The project cost is estimated at between $2 million and $2.5 million, board of public affairs officials said, although the final designs for the plant are being developed.

So far, Pemberville has received a $400,000 grant toward the project from the Ohio Public Works Commission. The village s Board of Public Affairs is now drafting letters to request funding in the form of either grants or low-interest loans from state and federal sources, board member Chuck Schulte said.

Both Elmore and Pemberville need new wastewater treatment plants because the ones they have now are old and deteriorating. During heavy rains, the plants receive more water than they can handle.

The new treatment plants would be built to accommodate larger amounts of water, officials said.

In Elmore, the sewage lines are also old and have leaks. When there is a lot of rain, the water filters into the sanitary sewer system and leads to overflows at the sewage treatment plant. That has led to untreated sewage going into the Portage River.

Both Pemberville and Elmore have been cited for violations by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency because of problems with their sanitary sewer systems, agency spokesman Dina Pierce said.

It has been left up to the villages themselves to decide what action to take, she added.

Each community is aware of the issues their plant has, and they know they need to rectify those issues, because if we don t see any effort to correct violations, we will take action, Ms. Pierce explained.

Expectations about the ease of obtaining the necessary funding to complete each project varied among officials.

In both villages, officials involved in planning the project said they were hopeful that talk of a federal stimulus package for capital improvements will lead to more loan and grant possibilities becoming available.

We ve got time to try and find grants, Mr. Claar said. We re going to have to. The village of Elmore doesn t have that much money, so we re going to have to find other funding any way we can.

Ms. Hayes said she was disappointed the village so far has been unable to find grant money for the sewer project.

It seems all anybody can offer us is loans, she said. We only want so many loans. With loans, you ve still got to pay it all back.

Pemberville Mayor James Opelt said he is concerned that obtaining funding could be made more difficult by the economic downturn.

It s always been difficult [to get funding], but it s getting worse with the economy the way it is, he said. Every community has their hand out, and we re just one of many.

But Mr. Schulte said the village won t know how easy or difficult it is to get funding until it starts applying for more grants and loans.

We ve got to think positive, he said. If you don t ask you don t know.



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