Environmentally-friendly $12.6 million project will replace two antiquated plants
CLEAR FORK VALLEY — Local officials — and some national names — gave their attention Wednesday to a groundbreaking. They were in the Valley to kick off construction of a first-in-Ohio regional wastewater treatment plant, just outside Butler.
Mayors of Butler and Bellville, plus representatives of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office, and Richland County authorities helped dig in shovels at the site at 1667 Mill Road, right on the edge of the village.
Jerry Roush, of the Ohio EPA, said “this, to us, is special” and that a lot of hard work went into the project.
He said his agency had worked closely with consultants and officials of Bellville and Butler to make the wastewater treatment plant possible. He said people would see “frontiers” on a project like this.
Bellville mayor Teri Brenkus said it was “weird to have a celebration for a wastewater treatment plant,” but she was happy to be there. She said the project had taken two years to complete, even though the idea had been sitting there for some time.
The site was partially snow-covered, and cars had to park along State Route 97 West, which leads out of Butler.
Brian McCartney, president of K.E. McCartney and Associates, Inc., before the ceremony began, said “it’s cold so we should move along.”
He referred to Josh Billings, who had referred to the “power of words,” but there would be problems if they were “hitched together.”
McCartney’s firm has done the engineering for the project.
He said the project was making it possible to do away with “two antiquated plants” and would help the local bike trail, which he said is “anything but scenic.”
The plant will help the ecosystem, he said, and aid the environmental resurgence of the Clear Fork River.
The river is known for its trout fishing.
He said officials of both villages, the Clear Fork trailer park, Clear Fork school district, the Richland County Planning Commission, and representatives of the block grant program were participants in making the project possible.
Butler mayor Joe Stallard thanked the McCartney firm for its role in the project. Council members Josh Haring, Wesley Dingus and Natasha Waltz attended.
Bellville was represented by Brenkus, village administrator Larry Weirich and council members Victor Swisher and Josh Epperson.
Brenkus thanked Stallard for approaching the project with an open mind. She said it would improve the environment “for many generations to come.”
Mycheala Holley, of Brown’s office, read a letter from him. It said he knows the project will “help the community and infrastructure growth” for years to come.
Jotika Shetty, executive director of the Richland County Regional Planning Commission, said she was happy to see how “eloquently” people had described the project.
She said it would go down as an historical effort. She also praised the work of the engineers on the project.
Richland County Commissioner Darrell Banks, a former Bellville mayor, said it had taken 10 to 12 years to get the project to work. He said it had been “pushed and pulled” by the McCartney firm in order to succeed.
The estimated cost of the project is $12.6 million. The Ohio EPA confirmed $4.5 million in grant money.
McCartney said this is the largest amount of money any community has received in 2018 from the EPA. The remaining $7.35 million for the project has been approved for a 30-year, interest free loan from the Ohio EPA