02/02/11 — Fremont hoping for grant for water

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Fremont hoping for grant for water

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 2, 2011 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- Using $10,000 from the town's water and sewer fund is a "pretty good gamble" that Fremont officials hope will pay off with a $750,000 grant to make improvements to the town's water system, Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said.

The Fremont Board of Aldermen agreed Tuesday night to use the $10,000 to cover the cost of a preliminary engineering report and filing the application for the state Department of Commerce grant.

The grant, which would require a 5 percent local match, would be used to help replace water lines.

"We have a lot of old lines, iron pipes," McDuffie said. "Iron turns into rust and flakes off in the water."

The money also would allow the town to replace some fire hydrants and to install additional water values, he said.

The deadline for submission is expected to be by May, McDuffie said. He added that if the money is received, it would be at least a year to a year or more before the public would see any construction.

McDuffie compared that timeline to the length of time it has taken for sewer repairs to get under way in the town. He said that the town had worked on that project for a long time and that it was only just recently that the public had seen work began.

"There is no guarantee. But to take a chance and spend $10,000 when you feel you have a good shot to get $750,000 -- that is a pretty good gamble," he said.

In other business, the board met in closed session to talk with an applicant for the vacant police chief's job. And during open session, aldermen agreed to allow a Fremont man to sell two pieces of property without having to face a $3,000 lien the town has imposed on the property.

McDuffie said he could not make specific comments about what was said in the closed session, but he did confirm that board members had spoken to an applicant for the police chief's job. Town officials had hoped to be ready to announce a new chief in early February. However, the decision is still at least several weeks away, he said.

"We are slowly moving forward," McDuffie said. "We believe it is better to take our time than to hire someone too quickly."

The town received 20 application for the office left vacant since Nov. 28 when former chief R.K. Rawlings resigned to go to work for a private contractor in Afghanistan, where he will train Afghan police officers.

Sgt. Teresa Quinn, who has been with the department since August 2008, is serving as interim chief of the department that has four full-time and four part-time officers.

Multiple interviews have been conducted, McDuffie said.

Hiring a police officer is more involved than hiring any other employee, he said.

"You have to do background checks, polygraph, drug tests, physical and a lot of other things," he said. "For a police chief there is even more."

In other business, the board agreed to allow Kay Wooten to sell two pieces of property without having to pay the $3,000 lien. The town had earlier condemned and demolished another of Wooten's properties after he failed to do so himself. The town placed a $3,000 tax lien on that property as well as other property owned by Wooten.

Allowing Wooten to sell two pieces of property on U.S. 117 will mean he can pay off what he owes the town with the exception of the $3,000 lien. McDuffie said the lien will remain on the other properties.

"At least are going to get something," he said. "It is better to get something than nothing."