01/11/09 — 7A mo stimulus

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7A mo stimulus

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 11, 2009 2:00 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A new fire station and water projects totaling $3 million top the town's wish list when it comes to snagging a share of President-elect Barack Obama's proposed $700 billion economic stimulus package.

And commissioners want to be able to move quickly just in case the funding does materialize.

To that end, commissioners Monday night authorized Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. and Town Manager Charles Brown to seek infrastructure grant funding without requiring board meetings be called.

The town is hoping to receive $2 million to put toward a new fire station and $500,000 each for the town's water distribution and filtration systems.

McDonald told commissioners he and Brown had been in touch with "what you might say are people in the know" about what might happen once Obama takes office.

The stimulus package includes an infrastructure plan in hopes of getting people back to work, he said.

"We are being told if you have a project and you have it on the shelf and it is ready to go, 'we are going to be able to help,'" McDonald said. "What we are asking you to do is if we get a call saying, 'Are you ready to put your application in right now,' for me to sign it and send it in.

"It is going to happen that quick. It isn't going to be slow. It is going to be fast moving because the people we are talking to say he (Obama) means business and he wants it to go now."

Brown said he wants to ensure the town is prepared.

"Priority is going to be given to shovel-ready projects," he said. "If you have a plan in hand and a budget in hand, you are going to be more likely to receive the funding."

Town officials have spoken with the consulting engineering firm working with the town on the fire station to "get them up to speed," he said.

A meeting is planned for Feb. 13 with engineers from Earth Tech.

"What we will be discussing with them is our water distribution system and filtration," Brown said. "Also, we will prioritize any other needs we have and get a plan in place. This is going to move so quickly that we anticipate that we just need the ability to move forward with the grant application.

"You always have the prerogative to decline the money."

The town already has a feasibility study on hand for a new fire station.

"We know we have outgrown our fire facility," Brown said in an interview following the meeting. "That is one of the things we want to put in the forefront."

At least $2 million will be needed, he said.

The town lacks a firmer figure since property will be needed as well.

The town has looked at the old Murphy feed mill property on North Breazeale Avenue. A second site is located between Park Avenue and Witherington Street that might also be feasible, he said.

The town has not made any offers because of uncertainty about funding, Brown said.

The water projects are need to enable the town to better utilize its abundant water supply, he said.

"We have a plentiful water supply, but sometimes if Goldsboro, for example, were to run short and needed water from us we have the water, but we don't have the filtration capacity," Brown said.

"If a large industry wanted to locate here and was a big water user, again we have the water, but we need to increase our filtration capacity to supply that need," he said.

"Our (water) pipes are old. We have taken pipes out of the ground and probably the only reason water was still in them was because the dirt was so compacted around it. All of that needs to be replaced.

"We already have a plan and budget in place for that. We want to be able to put it into somebody's hand when the money becomes available."