(Photo by Jill Bock, Staff)
MARSTON - The small town of Marston is turning some big dreams into reality.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development presented the city with a mock check for $800,000. That money, along with $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, will be used to correct problems in the community's water system.
Marston's original water system was constructed in the mid-1960s and consisted of a transite "asbestos" cement pipe. The pipe had become brittle and non-functional and many leaks could not be corrected for fear of major damage that could be inflicted by trying to couple new PVC fittings with the brittle transite pipe, officials said.
"With the old pipes we never knew what we were going to run into - there was old black pipe, asbestos, clay pipes, concrete pipes," said Marston Mayor Rebecca Redden. The funding will be used to replace all existing water lines in a redesigned system. Also the money will provide for a new water well as a back-up system, she said as officials continue improvements to the water system already begun with the construction of the town's new water treatment plant.
Redden said bids will be sought for the project soon and it is hoped work will start by June 1.
Previously approved bond issues will fund any repayment required with the bonds repaid by the system's users.
When the work is complete not only will there be fewer breaks in the water lines, but also the water pressure will be constant and the 280 residences on the system will have new connections to the meters, Redden said. She also predicted it will pave way for community growth by being able to offer quality water and sewage.
"I've lived here all my life and water has always been an issue here," added Alderman Robert Clay. "Through hard works, loans and grants, we are starting to see a break. We are seeing good water. "
The improvement to the water system is just part of the work on tap.
Within the next two weeks, the Marston Volunteer Fire Department will receive a tanker truck, which will provide an additional 2,000 gallons of water for fighting fires. This truck will be housed with the town's fire truck, which was purchased this past summer and was paid for through the town's half-
cent sales tax.
Alderman Bill Poley said the tanker truck will be invaluable when responding to mutual aid requests from other communities.
Already the pipe is available for the city to expand the town's sewer lines to the Interstate 55 rest areas. A new, larger visitors center is planned for the southbound rest area and when work is complete not only will Marston provide city water and sewer services there, it will also have a major customer.
This project should begin in the fall, according to the mayor.
Also this fall, the city will break ground on the Marston Community Center and Police Department.
Funded through a previously approved hotel/motel tax, the $421,750-
building will be located on the old baseball field near city hall. It will include offices, the police department, a court room, kitchen and a large dining room with seating for about 175.
"In the past we have had a lot of requests about meeting rooms. The hotel/motel tax is to provide revenue to promote tourism so we decided to build the community center, which will help bring people into our community," said Redden.
Other projects planned include the construction of a heliport, which will be used to provide emergency medical helicopter access. In 2009, the New Madrid County Health Department has slated to community for construction of a walking track.
"Between Becky and the people of this town we have been able to do a lot. We are getting better every day. We have got more new things going than we have ever had," said Poley.
"We are going to push even harder to see things get done," chimed in Clay. "There are better things to come."
Several area communities benefited from grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development recently.
> Campbell received $35,855 for purchase of a fully-equipped vehicle for the Police Department and to purchase firefighting equipment for the Fire Department.
> A $130,000 mock check was presented to the Portageville Rural Volunteer Fire Association to be used to purchase a new fire truck to serve the citizens of Portageville.
> Also Portageville received $26,250 to purchase storm warning sirens and a replacement vehicle for the Police Department.
> In Parma, the Rural Development staff presented $512,874 which will be used to improve the health and safety of the residents of Parma by improving the water system, adding a new police vehicle and installing a warning siren.
> A check was presented to New Madrid Public Water and Sewer District No. 4 for $1.3 million which will be used to improve the existing water distribution system.