Jun 25 2007

Somerville in line for $384,000 grant for sewer

The Decatur Daily

By Ronnie Thomas

Somerville is a step closer to sewer after U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, announced Thursday that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $384,000 for one phase of the project.

The 2008 Interior Appropriations bill now goes to the Senate floor for consideration.

“This is great news,” Mayor Ray Long said. “This is something we’ve worked hard on for almost three years, including three trips to Washington. And Sen. Shelby visited us in January and told us he was going to get us some money for sewer. He kept his word.”

Long said he and the Town Council are now awaiting news on a $3.8 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural and Community Development.

Both grants, which the council applied for in February, go hand-in-hand to complete the sewer system.

Long said the Congressional funding covers Phase II of the proposed system, which will take lines east from Sharp Road to Alabama 67 and Alabama 36.

The USDA grant, he said, covers Phase I of the project, taking lines west down Alabama 67 to hook up with Priceville’s main at the bottom of Priceville Mountain, at Cove Creek Crossing subdivision. Priceville has agreed to treat Somerville’s sewage.

“Phase I covers what is within our town limits as of today,” Long said. “Come Aug. 1, we will no longer have a police jurisdiction.”

That came about after state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and state Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, reached a compromise on Somerville’s annexation bill that they hope will satisfy people on both sides of the issue.

Eight property owners — including six businesses at the intersection — such as Jack’s Family Restaurant, Mamas Country Diner and Johnston’s Collision Center, asked for annexation to have a better chance at sewer.

Somerville agreed to pass an ordinance eliminating its police jurisdiction as soon as Gov. Bob Riley signed the bill, which originated with Grantland. It cleared the House on April 10 and Orr ushered it through the Senate. Riley signed it May 31 on the final day of the Legislative session.

“We’re confident we’ll get both grants,” Long said. “The USDA grant has the support of our entire congressional delegation.”

The mayor said that if Somerville doesn’t get the grant, the town will probably restructure its plans and borrow money from the USDA.