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MICRO — Thanks to a $785,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development grant coupled with town officials adjusting out-of-town water rates, the town of Micro is building a new utility business center while at the same time upgrading its water and sewer system, all without increasing taxes for its residents for water and sewer rates in town.
A ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the occasion was held on Thursday at 450 U.S 301 N. in Micro about 1,200 feet from the current town hall.
Town officials purchased the property from the McLaughlin estate heirs who, according to Micro Mayor Jay Warren, wanted to help the town and sold the land at a reasonable rate.
The property contains 10 acres, of which only one acre will be used for the building.
Land clearing on the property has already been completed and construction is expected to begin within the next couple weeks with a possible completion date in August or September.
Smithfield-based R.D. Braswell Construction Co. is the project’s general contractor.
The 3,000 square-foot facility will include a town clerk office, lobby and bill-paying area, a meeting room, restrooms and a maintenance shop.
The current town hall will remain in the same location and will become the Micro Police Department. The police department has been sharing the building with the utility payment office for many years.
After welcoming guests to the Thursday event and recognizing elected officials and others, Micro Mayor Jay Warren spoke about the project.
“We are all excited and are truly blessed,” said Warren. “This is something we have needed for a long time.”
Commissioner Russell Creech explained how the project came about.
“This actually started out with a problem,” said Creech. “Three years ago, we learned that our pump stations were crumbling.”
A lift station is a mechanism that pumps and lifts sewage from a lower point to a higher point within the sewer system, Creech explained.
Green Engineering of Wilson was called to conduct a study that determined the town had potential problems and inefficiencies within its water and sewer system.
“They showed us where the system needed upgrading and how we would be able to finance the project,” said Creech. “They helped us apply for a United States Department of Agriculture rural development grant.”
“The old system had been installed in 1965 and was so old it was beginning to fail,” said Public Works Director Johnny Dixon. “We were continuing to spend more and more money to repair leaks.”
According to Creech, the work required for the water and sewer system included repairing and replacing the main water line with 2-inch pipe upgraded from galvanized to PVC, replacing water meters and putting isolated meters on several hydrants, meaning if something happens to one hydrant, the entire town does not have to be shut down while repairs are made.
Construction of the utility building was also tied to the project.
Following a public hearing held on the matter with no objections being lodged, the town board unanimously approved the project.
Micro next applied for the USDA rural development grant last September and it was approved.
At the same time, town officials determined Micro had not been charging enough for its out-of-town water rates.
Those rates were adjusted to be in line with other municipalities in the area and the money realized by making that move will basically pay for the portion of the building not covered by the grant, officials said.
Total cost of the entire project is $1,617,000 with $785,000 coming from the grant and the remaining $832,000 coming in the form of a 2 percent-interest loan that will be covered by the water rate adjustment.
“This is all being done to make sure we have good quality water and sewer for the town of Micro,” said Creech.
“This is something that had to be done,” said Dixon. “It is going to make our water and sewer system more effective.”