06/23/08 — state trust funds funding projects in wayne county

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state trust funds funding projects in wayne county

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on June 23, 2008 1:45 PM

By this time next year, nature enthusiasts and swimmers at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park will likely be able to see the beginnings of the new visitors' center, where Park Superintendent Lyndon Sutton is hoping more office, classroom and exhibit space will eventually increase attendance and improve visitors' experiences.

The new two-story center will be 9,000 square feet and will have offices not only for the Cliff's rangers, but also for the entire Eastern District. Also included will be a new exhibit room and space for meetings and visiting classes.

"Right now, all we have if it rains is the picnic shelter," Sutton said. "It definitely helps improve your infrastructure and doing more than you have in the past."

Helping make the $4.7 million project a reality is a $500,000 grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, given in 2007.

"All of our state park projects go through a very objective screening process," said Louis Ledford, director of the state Parks and Recreation Division.

And, he explained, based on that set of detailed criteria, this was the Cliffs' year.

"There's never enough for everyone, so we try to be very objective," he said. "One of the things we want to improve is the visitor's center, the information and the places where we have classes and people can come."

In fact, during the last 12 years, trust fund grants have helped build 17 visitor's centers.

"Most definitely we're excited," Sutton said. "We have completed the design phase. We're hoping to break ground hopefully in the latter part of this year or even early next year."

Other grants given in 2007 in Wayne County by agencies charged with promoting water and land conservation efforts include $400,000 for the town of Pikeville and $115,000 for the town of Mount Olive, both from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

The Pikeville grant, explained trust fund communications director Lisa Schell, was given to help the town's sewer system and the water quality in Nahunta Swamp.

The funds helped replace about a mile of sewer lines -- a "small percentage" of what's needed, said town contract engineer Tyndall Lewis of McDavid Associates.

"It's basically sewer lines that were installed a long time ago (1930s) and now are leaking and need to be replaced."

The town also received for a $500,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Center for similar purposes last week.

Other grants given by the Rural Center this year include $500,000 for Fremont to help with the rehabilitation of its sprayfield along Davis Mill Road.

It was closed in 2003 when the town started sending its sewer to Goldsboro for treatment.

"We're going to re-open the sprayfield, and that's going to help us continue to reduce sewer bills," Town Manager Kerrie McDuffie said.

Also helping with the project are a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $200,000 loan from the USDA.

Additionally, Fremont received another $22,500 grant from the Rural Center to help begin long-term planning for improvements to the town's water system.

Also in Wayne County, Fork Township Sanitary District and Southwestern Wayne Sanitary District both received $500,000 grants to add additional wells to support the water system.

And finally, the Clean Water Trust Fund also awarded funds to help improve Mount Olive's sewer system, as well as the water quality of Barlow Branch and Thunder Swamp.

Town Manager Charles Brown explained that the town originally applied for a $2.1 million grant, but received only the $115,000 for planning and permitting.

However, he is hopeful that they will receive funding for the entire sewer collection project in the future. The goal, he explained, is to "relieve some of the pressure on the system," which currently has all of Mount Olive's and Calypso's sewer water meeting at the intersection of Main and Center streets before flowing to the new treatment plant.

If funding does become available, the project would divert some of that wastewater down new lines along N.C. 55, and improve the rest of city's 70-year-old sewer system.

"They did say, generally speaking, that they don't go around handing out planning and permitting dollars unless there's a good chance money will be available down the road for the rest of the project," Brown said.