CAROLINE CROSSROADS Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
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Dawn wastewater project in need of more funds

A fundraising effort has been initiated to raise money to close a $73,000 shortfall to start phase II of the Dawn Wastewater project in Caroline County.

Phase II of the project would connect 29 additional homes in the southern part of the county, primarily along Gregory and Concord roads, to the county’s existing wastewater treatment plant.

Project consultant Eldon James said $533,206 was available to start construction for the second phase of the project, which was $118,000 short of their lowest bid of $651,375 by Franklin Mechanical.

But James said they have been able to secure $10,000 from the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, which aims to improve the quality of life for low-income communities, and $5,000 from the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation.

By also removing a $30,000 spare pump from the bid, which James said is not essential to the project, the gap has been closed to $73,000.

James said they are looking to apply for other small grants with help from the Dawn Progressive Association, whose non-profit status may help their chances of winning grants that the county government may not be eligible for.

If the money cannot be raised, James said an alternative could be to eliminate the last 2,200 feet of mainline pipes, which would lower the number of homes conected from 29 to 24. That would lower the bid of the project to about $522,875.

“Make it work,” said Reedy Church district supervisor Reggie Underwood, who represents the Dawn area. “I can’t support it if we can’t do all 29 homes.”

Phase I of the project connected 180 homes and businesses to the county-operated wastewater treatment system in 2009.

Some of those homes had never had any kind of indoor plumbing. At the start of the project, Tommy Thompson of the Rappahannock Area Health District had declared Dawn a public health emergency and said it was “the worst area I have seen for on-site sewage disposal system.”

As part of Phase I, the county provided service to 19 families that had no disposal systems and were using portable toilets.

Service was also provided free to 91 low- to moderate-income families through a combina tion of grants.

All users currently pay a $25 monthly utility fee to help pay for maintenance. Based on the rules of the agencies that could provide federal stimulus funding, that fee could increase to about $32 a month after Phase II starts.

The board of supervisors will vote on a decision at the Jan. 22 meeting.