Water system on its way to Jefferson

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2005

LINDEN-For years the Marengo County Commission has sought a way to bring clean, fresh drinking water to the people of Jefferson and other areas of the county that have done without. Now, it seems a solution is well on its way.

For several months the county has been hard at work to bring water to these areas. The plan, people and funding appears to be in place. Now it is just a matter of getting customers in the area to sign up.

The county was able to secure funding with the help of Galbraith and associates, a firm form Mobile, which helps with the application process.

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Janie Galbraith, a representative of the firm said things are going very well.

“We are exactly where we should be,” Galbraith said. “We are where we should be as far as getting there. We are over the big hurdles, which was getting the money.”

Approval for funding was one of the major. Now that the funding is in place, and if the people of Jefferson show an interest, the area should have water in a little over a year.

“This is really a simple project,” Galbraith said. “We don’t have a well, we don’t have a tank. We probably will do this project sometime between February and April. Construction will begin then and the area should have water by next Christmas.”

Galbraith said they hoped to hook people to the new system gradually, rather than making everyone have to wait until the project is complete. Even when the project is complete some areas of the county will not be included because of complications or their proximity to other water systems. The area of John Essex School is one that will not fall under the project.

“One area I have been asked about repeatedly is the John Essex area,” Galbraith said. “The Essex school area is not in this. There was quite a bit of discussion with Demopolis on the water purchase agreement and that area is in Demopolis’ service area. We had to be real careful and not be presumptuous.”

The area consists of only a few houses and the county hoped the City of Demopolis would be able to pick them up.

Areas of Thomaston and Lansdale are also not included in the project. However, Thomaston has a Rural Development application in the works that should be submitted. As for Faundsdale, Galbraith said there were problems with the existing system that prevented them from being included. The area of Faundsdale in question was Cedarcrest.

“Faundsdale has some problems with their water system that limits their ability to expand,” Jane said. “I think it is a pretty expensive fix. I really don’t know what the situation is as far as what would be involved to fix them or how they could expand.”

Commissioner Max Joiner said the application process took a lot of time and work. However, he said it was worth the effort.

“A lot of work has gone on,” Joiner said. “This has not been an overnight deal. We are very proud that we are going to be able to pick up a majority of people in the county and some of the smaller towns.”

Commissioner Ken Tucker also praised everyone who helped out with the process.

“The commission isn’t always in agreement on everything, but we were all in agreement on providing good, clean drinking water to the people of this county,” Tucker said. “We all work hard to make things like this happen and we appreciate everyone who helped out with this and want to thank them publicly.”

Galbraith agreed getting the project in order was a true team effort.

“This project took everybody working together as hard as we could all work,” Galbraith said. “But we are there and we appreciate the willing spirit of the Marengo County Commission, the City of Myrtlewood and the City of Demopolis. It really took all three entities working together to find common ground.”

The CDBG grants acquired for the project could prove to be more beneficial than originally thought. If grant money is left over when the project is complete the county has the freedom to apply the funding to road projects. The county had little trouble in gaining approval as their ADECA grant application received the highest score of grants in all the state.

The next obstacle is getting residents of Jefferson to sign up for service. Myrtlewood Mayor Kevin McKinney said without participants, the project could not go forward.

“If we don’t have the sign ups out there it is still a dead project,” McKinney said. “If we don’t have 300 customers it doesn’t matter how much money we get. We just won’t be able to take on any more loans.”

The county will hold public hearings in the next 30 days where sign up information will be available. Further information on these meetings is expected soon.