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Valley Grande to pursue infrastructure grants

VALLEY GRANDE — The Valley Grande City Council is in the process of applying for grants to help pay for improvements to the city’s infrastructure.

During Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Wayne Labbe, council members and city engineering consultant Ray Hogg discussed the grants, which would help pay for work needed to an underground pipe and the city’s wastewater lagoon.

The council voted unanimously to allow Hogg to apply for a grant through the Delta Regional Authority to pay for improvements to the lagoon. The project would include the installation of a new aerator, fencing around the lagoon and an outflow system to measure the amount of treated water pumped from the lagoon to Valley Creek.

Hogg was scheduled to speak at Monday’s meeting before a surprise inspection of the city’s wastewater treatment facilities by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management earlier that day.

ADEM employees spent much of the day looking inspecting the city’s wastewater treatment lagoon, which is located near the Overlook Hills subdivision in Valley Grande.

“This was basically an annual visit by ADEM. They come unannounced, because they want to catch you operating like you operate on a regular basis,” Hogg said. “And really, they didn’t tell you to fix anything you didn’t already know needed done.”

Labbe said the council was well aware of the improvements needed at the lagoon before Monday’s inspection by ADEM.

“The sewage plant is in the best shape it’s been in for years,” Labbe said. “And I know, for example, that we’ve been talking about the fencing for a while, because it is a liability without a fence.”

Hogg also discussed applying for a Community Development Block Grant to help pay for the installation of lining inside the city’s underground sewer lines.

“Your sewer lines were put in in 1961, from the best we can tell, and they are clay,” Hogg said. “Clay pipe back then wasn’t like what it was in the 1980s. It had clay-on-clay joints, meaning there was nothing there to really seal of the joints.”

Hogg said the lining would help prevent water, dirt and debris, which can lead to blockages, from entering the pipes.

“As long as there is not a misalignment of the pipe, meaning the pipes have been pushed left or right or up or down, it is more cost effective and less obtrusive than other options,” Hogg said.

The council must hold a public hearing before applying for the CDBG program, which is organized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The hearing has been scheduled to take place Monday, July 7 at 5:30 p.m. before a regularly schedule council meeting at the Valley Grand Public Safety meeting.

Though this is the third consecutive year the city has applied for both grants, Labbe said he remains hopeful they can be awarded both this year.

“I feel confident in our chances for the lagoon grant money, but we’ll keep trying on the other one,” Labbe said. “Even through we are going up against a number of other communities across the state, you just never know.”