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Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
By William Kincaid
Villages to get water lines
Grants for distribution system, replacing pipes
  The villages of Rockford and Mendon have been awarded $873,000 in federal grants through the Water and Sanitary Sewer Program for new water lines.
"It's exciting - two villages getting two big grants," said Jared Ebbing, director of the Mercer County Economic Development Office, who applied for the grants on behalf of the villages.
Mendon will receive $483,000 and Rockford, $390,000 - both to be administered by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD)'s Office of Housing and Community Partnerships.
Rockford's money will help finance a $985,000 project to replace 11,500 feet of water line that will benefit 486 households. Mendon's grant will go toward a $1.21 million project to replace 19,650 feet of water line that will benefit 292 households.
Rockford and Mendon will be required to pay the remaining share of their projects, Ebbing said.
Rockford Village Administrator Jeff Long said the village may apply to the Ohio Water Development Authority or the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) for low interest loans to pay for its portion of the grant.
Long also said the village would like to use remaining stimulus funds from construction of the new water plant, which is online. Of the $1 million grant, about $150,000 is left, Long said.
"We're talking with the state right now," he said. "We're just in the beginning stages of that."
Ebbing said Mendon has applied for an OPWC grant to pay its remaining share. If that falls through, it could apply for low interest grants.
This comes on top of a $300,000 neighborhood revitalization Community Development Block Grant awarded to Mendon on Monday for a village-wide infrastructure project.
"This is almost like additional icing on the cake," Ebbing said.
The water line project will be incorporated into the infrastructure project, with engineering scheduled for this fall and work to begin next spring or summer, Ebbing said.
"The village itself is very pleased we got the grants," Mendon utility superintendent Randy Severns said.
According to Long, about 60 percent of Rockford's water lines - some dating back to the early 1900s - will be replaced.
Ebbing said a majority of Mendon's lines will be replaced.
"Both of them are going to have pretty good distribution systems," Ebbing said, adding that Rockford has a new water plant and Mendon's plant is only 13 years old.
In addition to the two local villages, Holmes County was awarded a $371,800 grant to install 4,320 feet of sewer lines, according to an ODOD press release.
The release also said the Water and Sanitary Sewer Program helps local governments maintain, improve and expand water and sanitary sewer systems. Applications for the program are accepted continuously and are rated against the following criteria: number of individuals expected to benefit from the project; ability to leverage funds; program impact; program readiness; and the community's financial capacity and rate structure.
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