By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
They are not glamorous community development projects but they will contribute greatly to the quality of life in Houston and Houlka for years to come.
Both Houston and Houlka have received Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for $450,000 each that will be used for sewer line improvements in both towns.
“We have been working on this for some time and it’s just a step-by-step process,” said Gay Williams, New Houlka City Clerk. “We have done the engineering and this is the environmental stage.”
Williams said, if all goes according to plan, their project could be let this spring, the actual work done this summer and the project wrapped up by fall.
“It’s been a while since we have done anything to our sewer system and lines,” said Williams. “This is just part of routine planning and maintenance.”
Karen Heintze, project manager with Three Rivers Planning and Development District said both projects are similar in scope but tailored to each community’s needs.
“The New Houlka project is to replace and repair deteriorated clay and gravity sewer lines and manholes,” said Heintze. “The Houston project is for inspection and repair of degraded sewer lines and manholes.
“The total Houston project has an estimated cost of $953,000,” she explained. “The balance of $503,000 will come from a capital improvement loan from the state at 2-percent.”
Heintze said the money for both projects comes through the Mississippi Development Authority. Houston’s “cap” loan is also through MDA.
Heintze said if all the paperwork lines up, work on the Houston project would begin in the next couple of months and finish up by fall.
The 8-inch lines targeted in Houlka were laid in the 1960s and have problems with rainwater and roots entering the system. Approximately 26 manholes are slated to be re-worked.
Neighborhoods slated to be reworked include Baskin, Griffin, Merrill, Fifth and Sixth streets and a section of East Highway 32.
In Houston the lines will be inspected to determine needed repairs with older sections of town where lines are more than 30 years old targeted.
Houston’s sewer system has a problem with rainwater entering the system and forcing raw sewage to the surface.
Plans are to re-line many of the pipes without having to dig them out of the ground.
“There is a progression to these type projects and we are in the final stages of the environmental study because it involves work in floodplains and wetlands,” said Heintze. “If we get good bids and then have good weather, these project will move quickly.”
To qualify for a CDBG from the state, 51 percent of the residents impacted by the project must be low to moderate income.
Three Rivers PDD is the agency that works directly with the City of Houston and City of New Houlka to manage these grants. Three Rivers provides assistance in working with state and federal agencies to municipalities and county entities in an eight-county area. Three Rivers PDD based out of Pontotoc.