West Jefferson awarded $660,000 grant

By Alan Bulluck

May 22, 2014

Better water and sewer is coming to Graybeal and Burkett avenues in West Jefferson.

The town was awarded a $660,000 Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The money will go towards replacing the aging water and sewer lines that line Graybeal and Burkett avenues.

The CDBG is a federal and state program that provides communities with financial resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs, such as improving water infrastructure.

There’s no word on when construction will start but when it does, both projects will be carried out at the same time, per a caveat in the grant application which proved to be the ultimate selling point with the state.

“When this project came before us, we had many more requests than we could grant out with the funds we had,” Assistant Manager for Rural Economic Development with the N.C. Department of Commerce and former Ashe County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell said at a meeting at West Jefferson Town Hall on Tuesday, May 20.

“The selling point was that if we get both of them (the roads), they (engineers) would cut the roads in the same footprint at the same time time, get the work done and they wouldn’t be doing it, then coming back and patching it again,” Mitchell said.

The CDBGs were awarded based on the recommendations from three state-level departments: DENR, Department of Commerce and N.C. Department of Transportation.

“When we discussed the West Jefferson project, we (state) bumped it up because of this,” Mitchell said. “One cut, same footprint, get it over with. This is getting to what we’re wanting to do at the state level in the way we use resources to get the job done.”

Mitchell praised the town leadership, in particular Town Manager Brantley Price and the town’s engineering staff for coming up with such a progressive plan.

“This was the only project that has come before us that’s taken that stance and promoted it this way,” Mitchell said. “When you have a project like this and the town is willing to look and plan ahead and say if we do it this way we can get it done at the same time. It’s a credit to the leadership in the town that they’re looking at things in that way.”

According to Mitchell, the state had $10 million available for $70 million worth of project requests. She said $14 million is on hand to award in July. So far, the state has received $60 million in requests.

Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.