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CDBG gives new life to Milltown project

CDBG gives new life to Milltown project
CDBG gives new life to Milltown project
Josh Breeding, manager for the Town of Milltown, looks at equipment that reads water levels at the wastewater treatment plant at Milltown. The town is looking to renovate the aging plant. Photo by Kaitlyn Clay

For the second time in roughly 13 months, Milltown officials are seeking Harrison County funds to help cover the costs of renovations to an aging wastewater treatment plant. This time, the town will have other funds to help get the project started.

At the first Harrison County Board of Commissioners of 2020, Milltown Sewer Board member Bill Byrd received permission to approach the Harrison County Council for $450,000.

The total cost of the project is approximately $2 million.

Harrison County has 40,000 gallons of the treatment plant’s capacity, roughly 30%, on reserve in case a large manufacturer moved to the area, which is how Milltown came up with the $450,000 request, which is close to 30% of the total cost.

The reserve is part of an old agreement between Harrison County and the town, which is split by Blue River, with the other side in Crawford County.

“The funding mentioned will maintain the current capacity of the new plant,” said Byrd. “Although not currently needed, increased population and economic development has been considered.”

In December of 2018, Milltown began discussions with the county to get the same amount of funding to help, but was denied last summer. This time Milltown hopes support from the state will help.

This month the town was awarded a $700,000 Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant. The money will improve the treatment plant by installing a new AeroMod type package plant, which contains most of the treatment options into one tank. The existing digestors, headworks, clarifiers and oxidation ditch will be demolished.

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a partnership of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. Funds are awarded to units of local government with various community projects related to downtown revitalization, infrastructure and public facility improvements, and economic development.

Milltown and the Town of Birdseye, along with 19 other rural communities in Indiana, will share more than $12.3 million in federal grant funding through the CDBG program.

Birdseye will receive $500,000 to build a new fire station.

“I am thrilled these two communities have been awarded with a combined $1.2 million,” said State Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem. “I look forward to seeing these improvements in Birdseye and Milltown, which will be made possible by this funding and the hard work of community members. Quality of life, public safety and health are crucial for our rural communities, and I am grateful to Lt. Gov. Crouch’s continued leadership in this area.”

The funding sources for Milltown’s project may not stop with the CDBG grant.

“We hope to receive a $900,000 low-interest loan,” said Byrd, which would come through a state program.

However, if the Harrison County Council funds the request, the loan would be cut in half.

Milltown was on Monday night’s Harrison County Council agenda, but no one approached the council to continue the discussion this week. Milltown officials could approach the council at its second meeting of the month, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at the government center.

Just as they had done before, the three Harrison County Commissioners unanimously supported Byrd’s request.

“Stay the course,” Commissioner Jim Heitkemper said following the vote.

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs had helped cover the cost of a study Milltown performed to find out what aspects of the treatment plant were failing and needing addressed.