04/01/05 — Princeton gets $2.2 million for sewer, new town hall

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Princeton gets $2.2 million for sewer, new town hall

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 1, 2005 1:47 PM

PRINCETON -- Sen. Elizabeth Dole presented Princeton town officials with, not one, but two federal checks Thursday to help pay for an overhaul of the town's aging sewer system and construction of a new town hall.

The town received a symbolic, oversized check for $1,589,000 for the sewer system and then a second check for $700,000 for a new municipal building.

"It's critical," Sen. Dole said, "that communities have a strong infrastructure to sustain businesses and attract new industry. The sewer project will do just that. It will allow the town to update its sewer system and bring it into compliance" with state regulations.

"This project will not only serve the community, but it also will help promote economic development as well," she said.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole with check

News-Argus/Mitch Loeber

Sen. Elizabeth Dole signs a $700,000 check Thursday to pay for the construction of a new municipal building in Princeton.

The second check for a grant and loan for the town hall was approved only hours earlier, said John Cooper, the state director for the Department of Agriculture's Rural Development agency.

Sen. Dole said the new 3,000-square-foot municipal building will house town employees and the police department.

The existing town hall was opened in the 1930s and was damaged by three hurricanes in 1999 and tropical storms in 2004. The roof now leaks after heavy rains. The 1,500-square-foot building is so small that town board meetings had to be moved to the Community Building to accommodate citizens in the audience.

"Both projects will make this a better place to live, work and start a business in Princeton," said the state's senior senator.

Mayor Don Rains said the second check "certainly was a surprise," although the town was proceeding with the project. He thanked the Rural Development officials for their help in improving the town's infrastructure.

Rains said the sewer issues "hit me square in the face" when he took office. The town had been fined by state environmental regulators at least nine times for sewage spills and other violations.

If the sewer system had not been repaired, Rains said, the state would have taken over the plant. He also noted that small towns could not afford such projects without federal help.

The check for the sewer system included a $1,187,000 grant and a $392,000 low-interest loan. The town contributed a $74,000 match and also received a $300,000 grant from the North Carolina Rural Center.

The system will benefit 481 residential and seven commercial users, officials said.

The check for the new town hall includes a $300,000 grant and a $400,000 low-interest loan.

Cooper said Johnston County has received $52 million in loans and grants since Sen. Dole took office in 2003. He said North Carolina has received $2 billion in loans in the last five years during the Bush administration.

When introducing Sen. Dole, Cooper said her greatest accomplishment "is that she truly cares about people in rural America and she truly cares about the quality of life in America."

At the end of the program, Sen. Dole received a basket of gifts from Terri Sutton, who is chairman of the town's Veterans Day Committee.

After the program at Princeton School, a reception was held for dignitaries and visitors. Sen. Dole signed autographs and posed with residents and children for photos before leaving for similar announcements in Four Oaks, Meadow and Clayton.