By Sean Rice
Celina will receive $750,000 from the federal government to help correct problems with the city water treatment plant, if President Bush keeps his word to sign a recent spending bill.
A line item for Celina was included in a $388 billion appropriations bill for 2005 that finished its trip through both houses of Congress on Saturday. The massive bill funds nearly all federal departments, outside of the military.
The money earmarked for Celina is to help end a continuing struggle with illegal levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) forming in the drinking water. THMs are a chemical byproduct in the treatment process the Environmental Protection Agency believes cause certain types of cancer.
As of Wednesday, Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue had not heard of any stipulations that may come with the money, such as deadlines or matching requirements.
Celina City Council member Angie King began the effort to get Celina's water issues on the radar of federal legislators after reading an article in The Daily Standard about St. Marys paying for a lobbyist to seek federal funds. King told LaRue the idea and began compiling information to take on a trip to Washington D.C. to solicit legislators.
"I was going to D.C. anyway, so I asked the mayor if she minds if I go lobby for Celina," King said Wednesday.
After King made initial calls to Ohio U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, an application packet was sent out for city administration to complete. The request from Celina was for $1 million.
In D.C., King spoke with aides for the senators, and explained the city's situation of persistent THM levels, and an Ohio EPA mandate to fix the problem.
"I took the Census, median income information, everything," King said.
Celina's federal allotment comes from a pool of funds that contain thousand of projects secured by legislators for home districts, special projects identified by watchdog groups as "pork barrel" spending. Some of the other pork in the bill includes $200,000 for a cotton museum in Texas and $300,000 for a parking garage in Maine.
"Hey if they've got fat, might as well bring it to Celina. If not, it's going to go somewhere else," King said.