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Jerry City's wait for water to end

JERRY CITY, Ohio - After years of working, hoping, and waiting, this southern Wood County village will get water lines to replace the wells that serve its 193 households.

“It's been three years since our sewer project, and they said this is the quickest anyone has ever gotten water and sewers together,” Jerry City Mayor Lisa Swinehart said . “This is a quick turnaround.”

What gave the project a boost was the decision last year by voters in the Elmwood Local School District to build a prekindergarten through high school complex near the existing high school about three miles east of the village. The state is paying about 80 percent of the $27.4 million cost.

“That helped pave the way to keep [the water project] affordable for the village,” said Jerry Greiner, executive director of the Northwestern Water & Sewer District.

Before the school opens in the fall of 2004, the water and sewer district will lay 6.8 miles of water lines from the intersection of State Rts. 25 and 281 south to Jerry City Road and east through the village and out to the school site.

The cost is estimated at nearly $2.8 million with the school district's portion estimated at $702,046, Mr. Greiner said.

The village's share is estimated at just under $1 million, which will be assessed to property owners who tap into the line. The water and sewer district will pick up the remainder of the cost and recoup its investment through tap-in fees along the line.

Mr. Greiner said the costs could be less if and when the village qualifies for federal grants. He met with a representative of U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor's office yesterday to talk about the village's need for financial help with the project.

He said a survey the water and sewer district conducted in Jerry City showed that residents supported bringing water to town “but it has to be a reasonable cost to make it affordable.”

Mayor Swinehart said she and village council have not heard any complaints.

“It's a definite good thing. We're looking forward to it,” she said.

Matt Feasel, a member of the Elmwood school board, said the benefit of having district water will be worth the cost. Currently, water from the school's well - like the wells in town - has a high sulfur content.

“If we have to, we'll have to, but we're opposed to putting that type of water into a brand new facility like this,” he said, adding that there are plenty of reasons to justify the water project. “We're not only looking at [drinking water]; the new school will have fire suppression systems that we don't have in the current facility. There are a lot of other things that are going to need that water. It's definitely a plus.”

Village and school officials say the availability of water in the area could spur commercial and residential development in the area, and that in turn would boost the tax base.

“We have nothing - no businesses,” Ms. Swinehart said. “We used to have a store and it's closed up now. We're hoping [for development] but we've really not discussed it.”

Mr. Feasel said some new homes are under construction in the Elmwood school district, and as much as the district welcomes that, officials hope the state was on target when it projected Elmwood's future enrollment to determine how large the new school would be.

If not, he said, “We've definitely planned the new facility so future expansion could take place.”

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