published Monday, March 21st, 2011

Wastewater plans

By Ryan Lewis

JASPER, Tenn.—The collaborative effort between Jasper and Kimball, Tenn., to upgrade Jasper’s existing wastewater treatment plant is nearing final agreement, but officials said the process needs to move quickly.

Recently, Kimball’s board of aldermen found several problems with the original proposed agreement to upgrade the facility to handle a capacity of 1.5 million gallons per day. The project will cost an estimated $5.7 million, officials said.

Kimball officials refused to sign the agreement because no specific wastewater treatment capacity numbers were listed in it.

At the Jasper board of aldermen meeting last month, leaders added the figures Kimball requested, but the revised contract did not reach Kimball’s board in time for a vote on March 3.

Now, Jasper Mayor Billy Simpson said he expects Kimball’s approval to come at its April 7 meeting.

“I’ve talked with Kimball Mayor David Jackson a couple of times,” he said. “Their board didn’t have time to look over the revised agreement before their last meeting. I’ve been told that no one has found a problem with it so far.”

“The sooner we can get everything agreed upon, then the faster we can move,” Jasper Alderman Paul Evans said. “If it takes both boards sitting down to come to that agreement, we’re ready to do that.”

Kimball Attorney Billy Gouger said none of Kimball’s board members have expressed any opposition with the revised contract.

“There were three areas of concern (with capacity numbers) in the original draft,” he said. “All of those areas were addressed in the final draft that I received at the end of February. To my knowledge, there weren’t any other objections to it.”

Some board members believe any further delays could doom the project, because budget cuts almost certainly are coming for USDA Rural Development funding.

“We’re going to have to expedite this [agreement] because Rural Development’s stimulus money is running out quickly,” Jasper Alderman Chip Wampler said.

Simpson said the budget cuts to Rural Development would be “tremendous.”

“I think it is all go from what I’m hearing,” he said. “We’ve got to get on this now before it’s too late.”

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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