College project takes new direction

by Meghann Evans
Managing Editor The Stokes News

The water and sewer project for the future community college site in Stokes has taken a new direction — literally.

The county had been planning to run water and sewer lines from Danbury down Highway 89 to the Meadows site which will house the Stokes County campus of Forsyth Technical Community College. But planners discovered that would be a massive undertaking which would require closing down Highway 89 for a time, County Manager Rick Morris explained.

So on Monday night the Stokes County Board of Commissioners gave the go-ahead to try a new route. Phase I is now underway to design a system running sewer lines from Danbury to Meadows and running water lines from the Highway 8 branch that goes to Germanton. This would not require closing either of the roads. The plans would involve placing a water tower somewhere near the South Stokes Fire Department at Highway 8 and Flat Shoals Road and running water to the campus. This has the potential to pick up many residential water customers along the way, said Morris. More than the less-populated Highway 89 route.

When county staff learned that running both utilities from Danbury would not be feasible, the possibility of placing a water tower close to the college property was considered. But the lower-level area would require a taller, more expensive tower. The project running water from the South Stokes district would be less expensive, Morris said.

A higher altitude and the potential for more subscribers are positives, Commissioner Leon Inman noted on Monday. He said the county would like to have both water and sewer in the Meadows area off of Dodgetown Road, not just for the community college, but for future economic development projects. As long as there was no additional cost, Inman said he was on board.

Commissioner Ronda Jones said she was glad to see the new design. “It looks like it’s really going to happen, guys,” she said, noting the many years the county has been working on the community college project.

Though the commissioners would like to extend both water and sewer services to the community college site, in the past the commissioners have discussed the possibility of not extending water service if funding was not available. But Morris said something will have to be done with the water service at the college because the current system serving the N.C. Department of Transportation and the Early College would not have the water pressure to meet fire suppression requirements.

So far the county has received a $2 million Golden LEAF Foundation grant for the multi-million dollar utilities project. The county is sending out an application this week to the Economic Development Administration, a federal agency, requesting $3 million. This required getting many letters of support from people and groups in the area. Morris informed the commissioners Monday that this was the last big grant the county needed for the water/sewer extension project.

A few of the commissioners had a meeting with Congressman Howard Coble over the weekend to discuss the community college project and let him know about the planning of the water and sewer extension.

“That was a very good meeting,” said Board Chairman Ernest Lankford.

Commissioner Inman noted that Senator Richard Burr’s office is also on board with the project.

Though no timeline is set in stone yet, Morris said the water and sewer extension project could begin in 2014.