JASPER, Tenn. - City leaders have chosen an engineering firm to address Jasper's sewer inflow and infiltration problems if they can get grant funding for the work.
The Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted recently to approve McGill Associates in Knoxville for the job.
"We had seven different engineering companies to submit proposals as to what they see that the town of Jasper needs to take care of our [infiltration] problem at our [sewer] treatment facility," Mayor Paul Evans said.
Of those seven, he said only two "really addressed" Jasper's sewer infiltration problem.
"All the others wanted to do, more or less, was to expand our treatment plant to take care of our problem," Evans said.
Marion County is applying for a state $500,000 Community Development Block Grant on the city's behalf.
Chuck Hammonds, director of community development for the Southeast Tennessee Development District, said in January that the state has funds available every year for local governments to work on various projects like the sewer problems with which Jasper is dealing.
Officials said municipalities can't apply for the grant funds until they have fully completed past projects using CDBG money.
Jasper now has an "open" project using such funds, Hammonds said, but the county can apply for the money in its place as long as the city is responsible for providing the grant's matching fund requirements.
Evans said his original plan was to defer a decision on the project's engineering firm until next month so board members would have more time to examine the proposals.
However, officials with the development district told him that "we need to get it done now, so we can get this going," he said.
Jasper couldn't officially get the grant funding "in the process" until an engineering firm was chosen, Evans said.
Alderman Steve Looney, who made the motion to approve McGill Associates, said it didn't make any sense to stall the application if Evans recommended that company over the others.
"I don't think we need to hold up any grant money," he said.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.