Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:31PM - 389 Views
Cris Ritchie

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CHAVIES – Local community leaders were on hand Wednesday to break ground on a sewage treatment plant that officials say has been needed for years.

The plant has been in the works for the better part of the past decade as a project of Perry County Sanitation District 1. Chairman Bobby Brown, who is one of three members of the district’s board of directors appointed last year, said he’s glad to see the land excavated and the project finally get underway.

The treatment plant, located just across the Breathitt County line on land donated by Chavies resident David Duff, will begin with a capacity of 100,000 gallons. The service area will include most areas of the county north of the Daniel Boone Shopping Center, including Chavies Elementary. Brown told the Herald earlier this month that he expects bid could go out in the next 60 days, and he noted this week that the project could be complete by 2014.

“We look for the plant to be in operation in the fall of next year,” Brown said. “That’s the forecast right now, and we hope to see it.”

The first phase of development will utilize funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, EPA, and coal severance taxes. The second phase will include $400,000 in coal severance, along with $875,000 in the form of a loan from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority.

Brown credited the fiscal court’s involvement with helping the project finally get off the ground, noting that long-time Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble was able to open doors and contact people the district’s board wasn’t on its own. Additionally, county Road Foreman Chester Wooton oversaw excavation work at the site utilizing a bulldozer donated by Whayne Supply along with county equipment, saving an estimated $300,000.

But another key factor is that the public also got behind the project.

“We’ve got people from the community that’s beginning to get behind this, wanting sewer, and they’re telling politicians we want this,” Brown said. “I think that’s moved some of it.”

The plant will be designed to double its capacity when funds become available, and Judge Noble said the eventual plan is to take some of the strain from the city of Hazard’s plant and extend sewer service to other areas of the county, such as Upper Second Creek and the Bulan/Hiner areas.

District 1 Magistrate Frank Hurley noted this project could also be a gauge for others looking to bring similar projects online, especially small communities in the region.

“A lot of people are going to be looking at it, and we’re really going to work hard to make this a success,” Hurley said.

Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony included several local officials taking the podium. The prevailing theme of the day with each of them was cooperation between the city and county government, and even between the fiscal courts of Perry and Breathitt counties. Breathitt County had to adopt the road leading to the property into the road plan, and then an interlocal agreement was approved so that Perry County can maintain the road.

Noble added this treatment plant ultimately will have a positive effect for Breathitt County because the water in the North Fork of the Kentucky River, which in the Chavies area is polluted mainly by straight pipes in the area discharging raw sewage, won’t be as polluted once the plant is operational.

“Sewer (service) is more expensive than water, and there’s no money it. If you can break even you’re lucky,” Noble added. “But it’s something we’ve got to have. We’ve got to clean the river, and we’ve got to clean the counties up.”

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