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Grants sought to complete Dawn wastewater project

BY PORTSIA SMITH

A fund-raising effort has begun to close a $73,000 shortfall to start phase II of the Dawn Wastewater project in Caroline County.

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

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

But James said the county has secured $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.

Also, by removing a $30,000 spare pump, which James said is not essential to the project, the gap has been closed to $73,000.

James said they may apply for other small grants with help from the Dawn Progressive Association. The association’s nonprofit status could improve chances of winning grants that the county government may not be eligible to receive alone.

If the money cannot be raised, James said an alternative could be to eliminate the last 2,200 feet of mainline pipe, which would lower the number of homes connected 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.”

The Caroline County Board of Supervisors will vote on how to proceed with the project at its Jan. 22 meeting.

Phase I connected 180 residences and businesses to the county wastewater treatment system in 2009.

Some of those homes had never had indoor plumbing. Before the project started, Tommy Thompson of the Rappahannock Area Health District had declared Dawn a public health emergency. He 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 for free to 91 low- to moderate-income families through a combination of grants.

All users currently pay a $25 monthly utility fee to help cover maintenance costs. 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.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419

psmith@fredericksburg.com

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