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Water line project awarded stimulus funds

October 15, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA. -- A $4.5 million water line replacement project set to begin in November will cost the Town of Bath less because of more than $2 million in federal stimulus funds, Mayor Susan J. Webster said Thursday.

Further reducing the cost, the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council granted $112,180 for the project, she said. 

"The cost of the project has been reduced by half," Webster said.

The remainder will be paid with a 30-year bond at zero percent interest, said Katy Mallory, project finance manager at Steptoe & Johnson, the Charleston, W.Va., law firm handling the stimulus funds. 

Webster said she learned the Town of Bath was chosen as one of four water projects in West Virginia to receive stimulus funding through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The town was awarded $2,193,910 in ARRA funds, she said. 

Phase II of the Water Line Replacement Project became a necessity, Webster said, after Phase I was completed in town in 2007, and the water lines outside of town began leaking and breaking. More than 50 percent of the water was still being lost.  

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"Phase I did not produce results, and we had to do Phase II now," Webster said.

She said she and her staff began preparing for Phase II in the summer of 2008 by seeking loans and filing the paperwork. 

When she learned of the ARRA stimulus funds in February, "I was determined to get help with the $4.5 million project," Webster said.  

"The competition was red hot and the time frame was very short," Webster said. 

"Some days were not pleasant to get this done. I really have to thank Margie Allgyer (Town of Bath clerk) and Dick Gay (Town of Bath legal counsel). I told them they had to meet the deadlines," Webster said. 

"The town did an excellent job in getting all of the requirements in to get the stimulus money," Mallory said. 

The other West Virginia water projects awarded were in Petersburg in Grant County, Jane Lew in Lewis County and Coons Run Public Service District in Harrison County, Mallory said.

Webster said "we will revisit" the 20 percent water rate increase that was to go into effect six months after completion of Phase II in order to pay for the $4.5 million cost. 

"We have time; it is a 300-day project," she said. 

Berkeley Springs Water Works is the town-owned water department and has about 1,600 customers inside and outside the town limits.  

The Town of Bath is the local government inside Berkeley Springs.

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