WARRENTON, Ga. - Waiting, waiting and waiting.
That's what officials and residents of the City of Warrenton have been doing for more than two decades in their quest to obtain new water infrastructure.
Finally, their wait has ended.
Although city officials already had received word from officials with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the approval for a $5.5 million water, sewer loan/grant, it wasn't made official until earlier this month. A number of local, state and federal dignitaries gathered at city hall to publicly make the announcement.
Warrenton Mayor Tony Mimbs said he couldn't be more pleased, noting this was a project that had taken years and years to become a reality.
"This is a big day for Warrenton," said Mayor Mimbs, adding that this had been one of the city's biggest challenges in more than two decades.
The mayor said he had served as a public official in Warrenton for the past 19 years and during that time, funding for major water and sewer projects had been discussed on numerous occasions.
"This has always been one of the biggest challenges facing our city," Mayor Mimbs said. "I can't tell you how appreciative we all are of having been approved for a project of this magnitude."
The funding for the joint project will allow for renovation of the city's water treatment plant, construction of a new clear well with a capacity of 500,000 gallons, along with extending water lines.
An additional 6,000 feet of eight-inch lines will be installed along U.S. Highway 278, while another 8,100 feet of eight-inch lines will be constructed along Georgia Highway 80. Those lines will be connected into the existing Warren County water system.
The current water system serves approximately 892 customers within the city limits, while serving another nearly 200 residents in the county.
"This community is committed to providing safe and adequate water to the citizens," said James Andrew, administrator of the USDA Rural Development. "This is important work.
This is your money - the taxpayers. We're just bringing it back to you."
Mr. Andrew, who actually lives in Jenkins County when he's not working in Washington, D.C., explained that Warrenton officials and residents "should feel fortunate," because such funding is becoming more and more difficult to obtain from the federal government.
"This is an investment for the people of Warrenton and Warren County," Mr. Andrew said.
F. Stone Workman, state director for the USDA Rural Development said the project "will address some health concerns, improve the water system and upgrade the plant. It also is a vital, necessary step towards revitalized economic development."
Kenny Green, project engineer with G. Ben Turnipseed Engineers, agreed with the mayor, saying, "This is a very big day for the residents of Warrenton - not just because there's a big check, but because this funding is going to provide an adequate and safe supply of water for years to come."
The source of the water system, according to Green, is a 175-acre lake on Rocky Comfort Creek.
The total of the overall project is broken down with $2,541,000 as a loan and the remaining $2,970,000 coming from a grant. The loan is repayable over 40 years at an interest rate of 4.125 percent.