Questions raised about Hustonville water line extension

October 06, 2004|EMILY BURTON

HUSTONVILLE - It takes Melissa Hicks all day to wash a single load of clothing using well water, and long, hot showers are out of the question. The Hicks family home on U.S. 127 South is one of several homes that don't have access to the city water system and after years of hearing promises, they are wondering when their day will come.

Hicks joined James Coffey of Branch View Angus Farm Tuesday to ask City Council members what was clogging up the water line extension project. A $255,000 grant from Appalachian Regional Commission, matched in part by the Lincoln County Fiscal Court, was awarded to Hustonville for the project in the spring of 2003. It had been applied for a year earlier and is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The nearly three-year lag between the application process and the actual work scheduled to be done had some citizens wondering if they will ever have access to a city water line.


"In the fall, you hear it's going to be [here] in the spring. In the spring, you hear it's going to be in the fall," Coffey said. It's "absolutely ridiculous" that a federal grant project is taking so long "and it should be moving forward." The handful of people without water on U.S. 127 South pay taxes too and need help.

At the grant's first application, it was estimated that 10 people would get water through the new line, and several more families would have stronger water pressure.

The hold up is due, in part, to a lengthy checklist that the USDA mandates must be completed before the first line can be placed.

Of the 143 items on the list, only three remain, said project engineer Ray Bascome of HMB Professional Engineers Inc. The easements for the work must be signed, then certified, and the USDA must approve a request to advertise bids for the project.

Looking to open bids in March

Though it's been said before, the project is looking to open bids in March said grant applicant and Senior Community Development Specialist Jayne Combs with Bluegrass Area Development District.

Combs explained the grant process to council members and provided updates. After more than two decades working with grants, there's "never been one that took quite this long," Combs said. "I'll be honest with you, it's been slower than some."

The extended time line could cause more than just water worries.

Market prices on parts and labor have increased since the grant was written and budgeted.

"Costs have increased, and if we come in over bid, that will be an issue," Bascom said.

If bids exceed the grant allotment, the city will be offered a low-interest loan through the USDA to cover the short-fall, said Combs.

But "we've got our fingers crossed," she added. "Believe you me, I want to see this done as much as you do."

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