Congressman Rick Boucher returned to Hillsville on Monday to announce two allocations of federal funding totaling $2,882,000 for Carroll County water and wastewater projects off Interstate 77 in Lambsburg and Wildwood. Boucher said the Carroll County Public Service Authority (PSA) would receive a grant of $564,000 and a loan of $1.25 million for a new water and wastewater system at Exit 1 in Lambsburg. He said the funding would bring water service to 35 homes and businesses and would enable to construction of the new Love’s Country Store and Truck Stop, which is set to bring between 70 to 90 new jobs to the area.
“They are welcome in today’s economy. This funding will also open the Exit 1 area to residential, commercial and industrial growth,” Boucher said. “All that was really missing was the funding we are announcing today to build the infrastructure that will enable that growth to happen. Over the years I think we can anticipate more businesses locating in proximity to Exit 1.”
Boucher said the PSA will also receive a grant of $1,062,000 for the Austinville Regional Water Project at Exit 19 in Wildwood. The project originally received $6.2 million in federal funding in April.
“With the funding we are announcing today, the project can now begin and construction can now commence,” Boucher said. “There will be a water line constructed between Austinville’s water treatment plant, which has a large water intake, and the balance of Carroll County’s water distribution system. That will create a new water supply that can bring water from the New River and the treatment plant at Austinville down to Carroll County. This will also serve Exit 19 and the area there. It will serve the Wildwood Commerce Park, and 322 homes located between Exit 19 and the Austinville community will be receiving public water services as the consequence of this project.”
Now that full funding has been secured for Lambsburg, Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe said the county will be looking at solutions to find a sustainable water source at the Exit 1 interchange. Possible options include tapping into the City of Mount Airy’s water source or for the county to develop its own.
“Currently there are two wells that will be serving Love’s, so we don’t have to worry about it right now. I have been in contact with the Virginia Department of Transportation, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and Mount Airy,” Larrowe said. “Mount Airy wants to sell us water and VDOT wants to help us, and we are working with NCDOT to do the same.”
Carroll County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Hutchins called April’s announcement of federal funding for the Austinville Regional Water Project a “Wow” moment. He said that must make Monday’s announcement a “wow squared or wow cubed” moment. He also said the board always welcomes Boucher and Travis Jackson, Area Director of federal funding agency Rural Development.
“Congressman, it is a pleasure to welcome you and Mr. Jackson again because we know when you guys show up usually there are dollars attached. It is usually good news,” Hutchins said. “We have diligently worked to improve the infrastructure of our county. I believe we realize as a board without infrastructure we couldn’t attract taxpaying concerns.”
In all, Boucher said the two announcements would provide clean drinking water to 350 Carroll County homes. He noted that additional projects are being considered for Carroll County. Monday’s announcements bring Carroll County’s total of federal funding to $11.5 million for 2009, a number Boucher said far and away leads the way across Southwest Virginia in terms of federal funding invested in water and wastewater systems.
“I also want to say something about the forward-looking nature and planning of local government here in Carroll County. Carroll County is planning for the future and that is reflected in the broad range of projects that are moving forward at the present time,” Boucher said. “The county understands the value of building infrastructure as a foundation for future growth.”
Carroll County PSA Chairman Sam Dickson said there are three kinds of supervisors — supervisors that make things happen, supervisors that watch things happen and supervisors that say what happened? He said the current board hopes to make things happen. In the past two years, Dickson pointed out that Carroll has added the Woodlawn water and sewer project. The county is also adding Exit 19 sewer and the Austinville Regional Water Project.
“Regional water is extremely important. We’ve lost wells and have been depending on wells. Wells are not very dependable in Carroll County,” Dickson said. “But we can connect every water system we have with this regional water coming out of the New River and that is going to give us a supply that is going to be more than what we need.”
The addition of Exit 1 water is vitally important as well, Dickson said, as it will bring jobs and more growth to Carroll County.
“You know what happens when Love’s moves in there? Right behind it is going to be a motel and a restaurant. We have already heard from people that own land across there talking about what they want to put there. All of these are important,” Dickson said. “Each one of them are a piece in that puzzle that is going to pull Carroll County. When regional water comes through here it is going to open all this up to jobs and we are going to be in the forefront hopefully to where we are not going to be the ones standing around saying what happened and why did this happen in Pulaski, why did this happen in Mount Airy? We are going to have it in Carroll.”
Carroll is “definitely not through,” Dickson said, as it has some more projects it hopes to get in the near future.
Travis Jackson of Rural Development recalled a conversation he had with Carroll representatives two years ago. When asked what the county needed to move forward, Jackson told local officials the county needed to decide if it was going to be in the utility business or not.
“I had no idea at that time how serious they would take that statement and what they would have been able to accomplish in this two-year period. I think clearly this county has sent a message to myself and the congressman that we want to be in the utility business and we are going to do whatever we need for our citizens,” Jackson said. “I do believe in if you build it they will come and they won’t come if you haven’t built it. So I say continue what you are doing.”
Hutchins said the growth of Exit 1 offers a tremendous future to Carroll County, but it is just the opening of one of three quadrants still left to be opened in the county.
“It is all part of a larger plan or a puzzle that we need to continue to put together. There are other areas — some lie in Fancy Gap, some in Pipers Gap and other areas that desperately need water and sewer,” Hutchins said. “We are working on those, but going back to Exit 1, I believe we will see industry and I believe we will see additional jobs. I think this PSA has worked diligently, the board of supervisors has supported it almost without exception, and it takes a buy-in of the whole county to start to build these things. It is like a triangle. If you properly put the three sides together, it is hard to fail, and that is what we are trying to do.”