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County given nearly $5 million

October 04, 2005|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

erinc@herald-mail.com

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that Washington County will receive nearly $5 million in grants and loans over the next fiscal year for rural development.

Keedysville received most of the $4.8 million - a $1.9 million loan the town will use to replace its failing water distribution system, which was installed in the 1950s, Mayor Kenneth Lee Brandenburg said. Engineering is complete on the project, and the loan will pay for a new 12-inch water main that will run through town, he said.

A pump station will be constructed at the north end of town, and a water tower will be built to the south, Brandenburg said.

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The town's water system breaks several times each year, causing water to be shut down for all residents for at least six hours, Brandenburg said Monday after a speech by USDA representatives at Keedysville Town Hall.

The Washington County Community Action Council received nearly $31,000 to help lower-income homeowners eliminate health and safety hazards and make repairs to their homes, according to Housing Director Kathy Saxman. The council plans to combine the federal housing preservation grant with other grants and existing money, she said.

The $358,000 in federal, state and local money will provide a Housing Rehabilitation Program for very low-, low- and moderate-income households in small towns and rural areas in Washington County, Saxman said. About 17 families will receive rehabilitation grants for their homes in the fiscal year ending in September 2006, she said.

The funds will be used to make roofing, electrical, structural or plumbing improvements and repairs needed to meet building codes.

The Interfaith Housing Alliance in Frederick, Md., received $285,462 to help about 10 families in Washington County build homes through the USDA Rural Development self-help housing program, according to Marlene Elliott, USDA Rural Development State Director.

An additional $2.1 million low-interest loan will support rural homeownership, and a nearly $500,000 grant will be used for rental assistance in Washington County, she said.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., said rural Washington County residents were simply getting their federal tax dollars back in the form of grants and loans.

"This is your money," he said. "We're giving it back to you."

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