June 22, 2018 10:16:36 AM
A grant the city of Starkville began seeking several years ago is coming through at just the right time.
Aldermen approved the acceptance of a Mississippi Environmental and Infrastructure Protection and Development Program grant, funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, during their meeting Tuesday. The grant will provide a total of slightly more than $1 million, with a 75-25 percent match -- the grant will pay about $750,000 and the city will pay about $250,000.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said the grant will give funding for sewer infrastructure work. She said work to get the grant started under Mayor Parker Wiseman.
"Apparently, back in Parker's term, he signed the papers for that," she said. "It was intended for us to get a handle on some of our sewer problems that we were having at the time, and it's just now come into fruition and they've just now gotten to the point where they're going to fund it."
The grant has come as the city is turning its focus toward serious work on its water and sewer infrastructure. City officials are, in particular, looking at replacing whole chunks of aging infrastructure -- specifically in the areas that see the most calls for repairs, such as Pleasant Acres and Green Oaks -- to ensure that Starkville has a solid infrastructure foundation for the next decades.
Spruill said she hopes the grant will have enough latitude for its uses to allow the city to roll in some of that work under it.
"I think it is to take care of sewer conditions and sewer problems," she said. "I'm hoping that it is broad enough to let us do precisely what we need to do because at the time we submitted it, we weren't sure exactly what we needed to do. Hopefully, there's some flexibility there."
Starkville Utilities Department General Manager Terry Kemp said he's still working with the grant's project director to determine how exactly the funding can be used. He said the grant was targeted to cover line replacements and point repairs, as well as possible upgrades to the department's lift station.
"It'll be several months before we can finalize the full project, as it's related to the Corps grant," he said. "It was submitted as a city-wide initiative. Part of it will overlap with what we're targeting."
Kemp anticipates a finalized agreement ready by the early fall. He also said the city's portion of the funding would come from the utilities department.
"We're excited and very pleased that we've gotten this far, and we look forward to continuing to get it worked out so we can take advantage of it here in Starkville," Kemp said.
Spruill said the funding, if it does help with some of the infrastructure work the city is positioning itself to take care of, will just be a piece in one of the largest undertakings in Starkville's history. Still, she said she was very grateful, both to see it come through and for the previous administration's work in setting the stage.
"It's just a great thing to have happen to us at a time when we obviously were focused on needing it," Spruill said. "What better call can I get one Friday morning than 'Hey, we've got a million bucks for you?'
"It's a perfect example of how the continuation of activity from one term comes to fruition in another term," she added. "Were it not for Mayor Wiseman, this probably would not have happened."
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