BETSY LAYNE — A number of state and local dignitaries were present Thursday at Betsy Layne Fire Department for the groundbreaking ceremony of a Floyd County sewer project nearly 13 years in the making.
The Harold sewer project has been in the development phase for what seems like an eternity to those involved, and many openly questioned whether or not the project would ever move forward.
Floyd County Attorney Keith Bartley, acting as master of ceremonies, said the project had gone through several different drafts and locations. At one time or another, the project was supposed to be in Prestonsburg, then in Pike County, and now finally in Betsy Layne, near the Pike and Floyd county line.
The projected construction consists of a new 100,000 gallons per day regional wastewater treatment plant at Pike/Floyd Hollow and five miles or more of sanitary sewer trunk force mains that will provide service to 135 initial customers. Sewer lines will range from 1.25 inches to 12 inches in diameter. A small section of gravity sewer line will be constructed along Bobcat Boulevard along with a conventional lift station. The project will also provide service to some larger developments and public entities such as, the Betsy Layne High School, Betsy Layne Elementary School, Huddle House, and a few commercial strip centers in Betsy Layne. The total cost for the project: $3,705,944.
Big Sandy ADD representative Sandy Runyon said the sewer project informally started with the beginning of the PRIDE project. Runyon said since that time, the project has been “on the shelf and off the shelf” for over a dozen years.
“I hope we can get this project in the ground before I retire,” Runyon quipped.
Floyd County Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall says the project is “an opportunity for Floyd County to develop the way adjacent counties have.” Marshall says businesses and industry often turn their nose up at the prospect of locating in Floyd County because of the cost of having to build their own wastewater treatment facilities.
Marshall says that six years of his tenure as judge have been spent trying to get this project off the ground.
State Sen. Johnny Ray Turner echoed Marshall’s remarks, saying the project has had its ups and downs. “But you’ve got to have water and sewer to bring in industry,” Turner said.
Hubert Halbert, who has been chairman of Southern Water for 11 years, said this was a day he thought would never come. Ultimately, however, “Everything fell into place,” Halbert said.
Also on hand for Thursday’s groundbreaking were Magistrates John Goble, Hattie Owens and Warren Jarrell; representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office, Tom Fern and Vernon Brown; and representatives from Summit Engineering, Drains Unlimited and H20 Construction. Drains Unlimited and H20 won the contracts for the project, and will be responsible for the construction of the pipelines and plant, respectively.
Contracts for the $3 million in projects were signed in May, and Thursday’s groundbreaking is the beginning of construction of a new sewage treatment plant at Pike-Floyd Hollow and sewer lines extended to 135 customers in Betsy Layne and Stanville, initially. Phase one of the project is only the beginning of a much larger effort to extend sewer service to 1,000 customers throughout the southern U.S. 23 corridor, from Mare Creek to the Pike County line.
The two projects will begin simultaneously and are expected to be complete in as little as nine months.