05/20/09 — Duplin rejects federal funds for sewer work

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Duplin rejects federal funds for sewer work

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 20, 2009 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin commissioners said no thanks to federal money for sewer projects Monday because the county would have to pay back half of the $1.7 million grant-loan package.

Joe McKemmey of the county's engineering company, McDavid Associates, offered earlier this month to do the preliminary work in case the county received the money. But commissioners were reluctant even then. Their only option was to apply for a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant-loan package.

It was a hard decision and a split vote, because commissioners have been wanting to run sewer lines to three I-40 exits -- Exit 369 at U.S. 117 south of Warsaw, Exit 373 at N.C. 903 near Kenansville and Exit 380 near Rose Hill -- to draw industry.

The problem, though, is that the only stimulus grant money offered to county so far has been to address health issues, and the only money available for economic development would come in the form of the grant-loan from the USDA.

Chairman Cary Turner said now is not the time to be incurring any more debt. The economic downturn has already taken its toll on county coffers.

"Right now I think it would be a bad decision to jump right in," he said.

Commissioner Harold Raynor moved to table the matter until January 2010. Turner gave the second. The vote was 4-to-2. Commissioners Zettie Williams and Reginald Wells dissented without comment.

Mrs. Williams said this morning she hopes the economy turns around enough by the first of the year for the full board to feel comfortable applying for the grant-loan. It would give Duplin a great advantage in recruiting business to move into the county, she said.

"You can see how as soon as an interchange becomes popular business booms. Look at how the River Landing interchange has grown," she said. "It's going to take investment and initiative on the part of the county. I feel if we had sewer in those areas it would be a great asset."