Oak Creek gets windfall

Town to receive grant checks for over $2 million

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— Oak Creek officials are inviting residents, local politicians and anyone else interested in being part of a presentation for the biggest grant the town has received.

"I am hoping that many, many people from the town will be there," Oak Creek Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman said Friday. "This is a really big deal for our town."

The town is receiving two grants totaling slightly more than $2 million. The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development division is for $1,524,000. A grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs is worth $498,697.

The grants will help fund construction of a new wastewater treatment plant and the replacement of nearly 27,000 feet of wastewater collection pipes.

Rodeman said U.S. Rep. John Salazar, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, state Sen. Jack Taylor, state Rep. Al White and others have been invited to attend the check presentation in Oak Creek's Decker Park. Oak Creek businesses Black Mountain Tavern, Calamity Janes, the Colorado Bar & Grill, Dinty Moore's, Fortune's, Chuck Reed, The Mugshot, Select Super and Spiro's will provide refreshments. Rio Oso Nursery will provide flower arrangements.

The wastewater project was mandated several years ago by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. It never was started, Rodeman said.

"Apparently in 2001, before I was elected to my first term in 2002, the town had been given this mandated schedule of compliance, but no one bothered to pass that down to us. So when (water treatment plant manger) Stan (Gale) found a copy of that in 2004 and gave it to me a few months before the project was to be completed, I went, 'Oh my,'" she said.

Rodeman eventually secured an extension for the project.

The project, which is scheduled to begin in spring 2007, is expected to cost about $3.2 million. The town is taking out a $1.2 million loan to fund what isn't covered by grant monies. The town will repay the loan in $64,000 annual installments, Rodeman said.

Receiving the grants kept the town from having to take out additional loans, which Rodeman said may have been too much for the small town to handle.

"I'm beyond pleased. I'm just so thankful we are being given this money. I know normally the USDA does not give out such big grants," she said.

The Carter Burgess engineering firm, which will build the new wastewater treatment plant, has been instrumental in planning the project, Rodeman said.

Rodeman said the project is expected to take about two years to complete, alth-ough the treatment plant sho-uld be done within a year.

Residents are being encouraged to have professionals examine the wastewater laterals that connect their homes to the town's collection pipes. Rodeman said residents will be responsible for the cost of repairing their own sewer pipes.

"I advise people start having their lines inspected now so that it isn't a surprise if they need to be replaced in a year or so," she said.

The McCoy-based company Freedom Sewer & Drain is offering special group rates to Oak Creek residents for video inspection of the pipes and replacement. Call (970) 653-8588.

To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com.

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