GOVERNOR DEWINE … Governor DeWine stands at the podium in Fayette to speak about the $10 million grant awarded to the Village. (PHOTOS BY JACOB KESSLER, STAFF)
By: Jacob Kessler
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and staff came to the Village of Fayette on Tuesday morning to hold a press conference with Village and County Officials.
The conference was due to the Ohio Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Grant Program and the $10 million the village was awarded from the program.
The village had submitted their grant application in hopes to completely replace the village’s aging water distribution system. The grant application had received priority points from the County Engineer and was also number one on his list due to the systems failings and the urgent need for replacement.
The atmosphere before the conference showed excitement with many people stating that it was the most exciting thing to happen to the Village of Fayette and possibly the county.
Governor DeWine arrived at 10:00 a.m. and proceeded to greet everyone that was present. He went around the crowd and said hello and shook everyone’s hand before proceeding to the podium with Mayor David Borer and the Village Administrator Genna Biddix.
The mayor thanked everyone for coming and stated that this is “a momentous occasion for the Village of Fayette.” He thanked the governor and his crew as well as everyone else that helped to make the day possible before introducing the governor.
Governor DeWine started off by welcoming everyone that came. “It is good to see everybody. It is really exciting for me to be here.” He continued on and stated that this was the first stop out of three he will be making today and that his wife and the Lt. Governor are also out making stops today.
The Governor explained that this event today was a culmination of everything they have been working towards since 2019.
“Go back to November in 2019 when we announced H2Ohio that’s purpose was to make sure that all Ohioans have clean drinking water. To clean up Ohio water and make sure that algal blooms never cause a situation again where fisherman cannot go out and fish, and where people in Toledo and other parts of the state can’t get the clean water from Lake Erie that they should be getting,” said Governor DeWine.
He continued to speak about the goal of the program being so that every Ohioan has access to clean drinking water, with consistency and with no shutdowns or huge problems.
“One of the things I talked about back in 2019 when we announced H2Ohio was that there are places in Ohio where we have failing water systems. There are places where we have failing septic tanks.”
“There are places where we have dangerous lead pipes where drinking water is flowing through. There are places in Ohio where we have a failing infrastructure. We are kind of dubbing this as Build Ohio. We are going to be spending money, directly investing in our communities and investing in our people,” said Governor DeWine.
The Governor then went on to say that they are announcing 54 separate grants around the State of Ohio that represents 60 separate counties and that will total $93 Million. This is the first of a series of announcements that will be made over the next month. A total of $250 Million will be devoted to these grants.
The money is from the Federal Government and the decision was made, along with the State Legislature, to invest this in the communities. There will be two more announcements over the next month or so as to where the rest of the money will go. Every single county will get at least one of these grants.
“Frankly few places in Ohio have such a need as you do in your community. This is the largest, I believe, grant that we are making in the announcement today. And that decision was made simply because of the situation you’re in, really to no fault of your own.”
“That you have a system that has been identified and I quote, has a high risk for catastrophic failure,” said Governor DeWine. He then moved to introduce the Village Administrator Genna Biddix.
PARTNERSHIP … Mayor Borer and Village Administrator Biddix stand with Governor DeWine after the press conference that discussed the village receiving $10 million in grant money for the water distribution system.
Mrs. Biddix started off by speaking to how important the day was. “This is a historic day for the Village. I am humbled to speak on behalf of the mayor, elected officials, the administration staff and the DPW staff. A great deal of work went into being able to apply for this very unique grant,” said Mrs. Biddix.
She then went on to explain that the $10 million will be used to relieve the majority of the estimated $14 million burden resting on the shoulders of the community.
It will also shorten the length of time it will take to complete the project, as they will now be able to do it all in one phase, instead of 3 phases.
“The money will fund a completely new water distribution system. The villages water distribution system currently has an increasingly high rate of failure and an unacceptable number of inoperable main valves that make it difficult or impossible to shut down water flow for necessary emergency repairs.”
“For years we have fought to keep water loss under control. The DPW staff does an outstanding job working under such challenging conditions. We are very fortunate that they are so dedicated,” said Mrs. Biddix.
The project itself is still in the early planning stages and has just recently started working with an engineer from Arcadis and colleagues from GLCAP (Great Lakes Community Action Partnership).
The hope is to have the finished design plans ready to submit to the Ohio EPA by Spring or Summer of 2022. Once approval is granted, the hope is to then put it out to bid, hire a contractor, and start construction in late 2022 or early 2023 if weather permits.
“There is no doubt of the immense positive impact this water infrastructure project will bring to our long-suffering residents once completed.”
“Not only will this improve all of our resident’s quality of life, it will help reduce the heavy financial burden this project would have placed on our economically distressed community,” said Mrs. Biddix. She then went on to offer thanks to all those that helped to make the project possible before reintroducing Governor DeWine.
“I grew up in a village a little bit bigger than this, about 3,500 people, and I understand what unique challenges villages have. We also understand how important these villages are and how wonderful they are to live in.”
“So, for me it is very exciting to be able to announce this grant. It’s part of an overall vision we have for Ohio, to invest in our people, to invest in our communities where people live.”
“You can look at it as infrastructure, you can look at it as clean water; however you want to look at it, but these are things that are essential to the quality of life. It’s essential frankly for us to be able to grow as a state, its essential for us to be able to provide that clean water that, frankly every Ohio citizen deserves,” said Governor DeWine.
Lastly, Governor DeWine stated that more announcements will be made in the future not only for water infrastructure but for things like broadband and brown field areas that need cleaned up as well. He then thanked everyone and proceeded to take photos with visitors before taking a tour of the Fayette Opera house.
Inside the Opera House he met with workers there and took a tour of their stage and learned about some of the history for the building and items inside.
He also enjoyed some of the refreshments that were available inside for everyone before heading out to his next engagement.
The overall feeling after it was all finished was still much the same as it was in the beginning. Excitement and optimism for the future of Fayette in the knowledge that help has come and that the quality of living is going to increase for village residents.
Jacob can be reached at email@example.com