State funds to aid local projects

Published 4:18 pm Thursday, October 5, 2023

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GATESVILLE – The infusion of over $10 million from the recently approved North Carolina budget will help fund several major infrastructure improvement projects in Gates County.

Those state funds, announced last week, will also impact Gates County Public Schools and the county’s Sheriff’s Office.

Bill Ward, who represents District 5 in the North Carolina House of Representatives (a district that includes Gates County) said $10,145,000 of the 2023-2025 state budget will be used for water and wastewater system improvements in Gates County.

The new state budget also includes $400,000 for Gates County Schools ($200,000 each for the Navy National Defense Cadet Corp program at the high school and for science equipment). It also earmarks $300,000 for the Gates County Sheriff’s Office to purchase new vehicles.

“It is my honor to serve the citizens of House District 5 who have placed their trust in me,” Rep. Ward told the Gates County Index. “It was one of my campaign promises that I would work within the General Assembly to ensure recognition for the wonderful people of the District and the uniqueness of our beautiful area. As we can see, that hard work has come to fruition and I will continue to work for the betterment of all of our citizens.”

Dr. Althea Riddick, chair of the Gates County Board of Commissioners, thanked Rep. Ward and District 2 State Senator Bobby Hanig for their advocacy and collaborative work with the county in securing the funding.

“The Board, Scott Sauer, our county manager, Brad Arnold, our public utilities director, and county staff have actively engaged in developing and updating the Gates County Water System Capital Improvement Plan and Budget,” Riddick stated. “Green Engineering has been diligent as they ensured the county’s strategic focus incorporated funding requests that updates and corrects the current systems and strategically incorporates future growth opportunities for economic development.”

Sauer said the county is grateful for the leadership and support of Ward and Hanig for responding to the Board of Commissioners to achieve this level of support from the NC General Assembly to upgrade and improve the county’s water and sewer infrastructure. He added that their vision will assist business expansion and much needed residential development in the county.

“And, of course, the Board of Commissioners is very excited to know that Senator Hanig and Representative Ward were able to secure $300,000 for equipment to support Sheriff Campbell and funding for the Gates County Schools for the Naval Cadet Program and the Science Department,” Sauer said.

He added that the state funds will help pay for the county’s Capital Improvement Plan for FY 2024 thru FY 2034 which totals $13,350,000. Of that amount, the county has already approved $1,400,697 for the replacement of the 4,600 water meters. The new meters are equipped with radio read drive-by communications and software. That project is scheduled to begin this month and is expected to be completed by May 1, 2024.

As for the new funding from the state, Sauer said other top priority projects include a combined $633,000 for asset inventory and assessment studies of the county’s water and wastewater systems; $1,550,000 to replace the 150,000 gallon elevated water tank in Gatesville; $2,300,000 for a restoration project (to include new pumping equipment for the spray application field and the replacement of the 75,000 square feet effluent storage lagoon) and soil remediation study at the county’s 0.015 mgd Wastewater Treatment Plant; and $2,900,000 for several water line extensions (24,375 linear feet), a new well (capable of providing 500 gallons of water per minute), and a directional bore (1,800 linear feet) under Bennett’s Creek to install a second interconnect to the water system.

The state funding for Gates County Schools was greeted with cheers from local education officials.

“The Gates County Board of Education and I are very appreciative of the $400,000 appropriation from the NC General Assembly for the high school science department and the Navy National Defense Cadet Corp (NNDCC). The funding will provide for multiple needs within both programs and will serve the students who attend the high school,” stated Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams.

“By allocating resources towards science supplies, Rep. Ward and Senator Hanig are ensuring that our students have the necessary tools to explore and understand the world around them,” Williams added. “This investment will not only enhance their educational experience but also foster a generation of curious and innovative thinkers who can contribute to scientific advancements.

Similarly, Dr. Williams stressed that the support for the NNDCC program is invaluable.

“This program allows students to develop essential skills such as leadership, discipline, and teamwork while instilling a sense of patriotism and service,” he noted. “By providing funding for the NNDCC, they are enabling young individuals to pursue their passion for protecting our nation and becoming future leaders in the armed forces or their chosen career.”

Additionally, Gates County Schools received a small increase in the yearly Small Schools allotment, according to Dr. Williams.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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