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|Grant to aid Sterlington's growth|
The town of Sterlington will receive a $250,000 grant to help pay for a new wastewater treatment plant, which is expected to improve the quality of waste discharged into the Ouachita River.
The funding is part of federal grants authorized by Delta Regional Authority. Congress established DRA in 2000 to enhance economic development and quality of life for people living in more than 240 counties and parishes across the South. DRA works in cooperation with state governments to improve infrastructure and increase and maintain the region's jobs.
The Sterlington project also will boost the capacity of the treatment plant to accommodate increased sewer needs in the area. Additional money for the $2-million project will come from local sources and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
Mayor Vern Breland said engineering plans for the project have been turned into the state. The town hopes to begin accepting bids sometime in 2009.
The new facility will be located on the 10-acre site next to the town's current wastewater treatment plant. Once the new plant is operational, the town will utilize the old plant for retention purposes whenever an overflow issue arises.
The new plant is needed to accommodate future growth within the town of Sterlington, Breland said.
"If we didn't look to add capacity, with all the growth we've got out here, we wouldn't be able to handle that growth," Breland said. "This is basically another piece of the puzzle coming together for us."
The existing treatment plant treats 150,000 gallons of wastewater each day. The new facility will be able to treat 350,000 gallons per day, Breland said.
"This should sustain us for the next 20 years," he said.
Construction on the project should begin sometime in 2009. It will take one year before it's operational.
Breland said growth in Sterlington has continued to increase over the past several years. When a new elementary school opens, town officials expect even more growth.
"The biggest thing driving our growth is our school system," Breland said. "They're telling us it (new elementary school) will be built to accommodate 650 students, and considering our growth, that might be a little small."
"We're definitely going through some growing pains," Breland added.
Last summer, eastern Ouachita voters approved the extension of Ouachita Parish Schools' property tax for seven more years to give the school board roughly $30 million for the construction of two new schools and renovations at the existing eastern Ouachita schools.
The school board plans to build a new elementary school in Sterlington and a new middle school in Richwood.
Meanwhile, Breland expects construction of an upscale 302 unit apartment complex to begin next year, drawing in another 600 people to the town.
Currently the population of Sterlington is about 1,500 residents. Town officials expect that total will increase to about 6,000 residents once its growth levels out.
"Most people knew we were going to grow, but we never thought it would go this quick," Breland said.
Another project for Sterlington is attracting a grocery store so residents do not have to travel so far to buy groceries.