|Aug 31, 2010 --
OUTLINE OF NEED:
For many years, within the small town of Atkinson, NC, their 255 residents have been battling the threat of petroleum contamination within the aquifers of their small community. Individual water supply wells have begun to pose a threat to human health and the environment and some households are experiencing bacteria in their wells thus producing rust, lime and calcium resulting in poor water quality.
HOW RURAL DEVELOPMENT HELPED:
The Town of Atkinson is an aging community comprised mainly of retired citizens on a fixed income. The median household income of the area is $34,375. Though town leaders saw the dire need for a public water system, many residents have been very reluctant throughout the years to support it due to the fear of not being able to afford the user rates. Interestingly enough when the Town first began its’ inquiry into a water system some 30 years ago, a combined water and sewer bill would likely not have exceeded $15 - $20 per month. At that time, the feasibility study proposed that a water and sewer project would have cost the town approximately $100,000!
According to Mayor Jack Turner, the Town engaged the help of USDA-Rural Development in November, 2005 in an effort to fulfill their dream of a water system for their small community. After many meetings, phone calls, and then hiring a consultant for their project; Atkinson was then prepared to hear of any proposals our Agency could offer. In October, 2006, the Area Specialist then met with the Town and its’ residents making a presentation about the financing of a water system that would benefit the entire community and eliminate any hazardous conditions they were experiencing with their current water situation. In December, 2006 they advertised for engineering services and McKim & Creed Engineers were hired as the engineering firm for this project. The Town filed an application on February 26, 2008. With this being the Town’s first experience in a project of this magnitude; Agency officials have spent quite a bit of time and resources’ assisting the Town to reach a milestone that Former Mayor Herbert Pate says he has longed to see since 1965.
On August 15, 2008, a $432,000 loan and $490,000 grant was obligated by USDA-Rural Development for the construction of a new water system for the Town of Atkinson. They were awarded a $500,000 grant from the NC Rural Center; the Town is contributing $5,000 of their own funds with an additional $23,000 in tap fees for an estimated project cost of $1,451,000. This project will benefit approximately 128 residential users and 31 commercial users and will provide additional jobs to the local area. According to Mayor Jack Turner, the project could possibly expand in the future to pick up an additional 75 users outside the city limits.
The project will consist of 2 wells; 1-75,000 elevated storage tank; and 33,000 linear feet of water lines.
To date, the 2 wells have been installed; all permits have been obtained and the Town is now working on securing the survey for railroad easements. Hopefully, within the next 90 days a Notice to Proceed will be issued.
In August, 2008 the Town hosted a Check Presentation ceremony with USDA-Rural Development Staff, Congressional delegates and Senatorial delegates to celebrate a dream coming true for the Town. Town residents, Former Mayor Herbert Pate and Mayor Jack Turner are very appreciative and most grateful for the time, effort and work that have been provided to Town of Atkinson as they finally see their public water system within reach. This project epitomizes the essence of USDA, Rural Development and its’ mission to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents.