The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Town of Pence gets over $600,000 in USDA funds


December 7, 2019


WASHINGTON — The town of Pence is in line to receive over $600,000 in federal funds to help with a sewer project, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development announced recently.

“It's great (to hear about the funding),” said Pence town chairman Michael Paternoster. “It's been a longtime coming — a lot of paperwork, a lot of work.”

The total award of $638,000 in federal money is split between $398,000 in grant funds and $240,000 in loans, according to the announcement, and is part of a $635 million investment in 122 projects around the country.

“These investments will bring reliable infrastructure to rural communities. They will replace old, fragile leaking water pipes with new ones and allow upgrades to water handling systems that are decades old, boosting water pressure and cutting water losses. Working with our partners, these investments created jobs and improve public health and safety,” USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy said in the Nov. 19 announcement.

The Pence project will including “sewer collection system improvements,” according to information about the award.

“This project … will include improvements to reduce the amount of clear water infiltration by replacing and rehabilitating damaged manholes, replacing linear feet of the connection sewer main into manholes and installation of larger capacity pumps in a new packaged type lift station,” the information reads.

Paternoster explained the town has an issue with clear water, or water that doesn't need to be treated, entering its sewer system.

“Right now, our sewer system gets a lot of clear water infiltration and the whole idea of it is to eliminate as much of that as we can through rehabbing the sewer system,” he said, adding the project will also include construction of a new lift station as the 30-year-old pumps in the lift station have a 20-year lifespan.

Not only is the infiltration wasting water, Paternoster said it uses extra town resources to treat.

“Our pumps run many hours extra because of (the infiltration), just pumping clear water where it shouldn't be,” Paternoster said.

The plans for the project are mostly finalized, according to Paternoster, and the town hopes to bid out the project in “mid to late winter” so work can begin this spring.

The new lift station station will be built next to the existing one on the south edge of town before the existing station is discontinued, meaning the work is expected to have minimal impact on residents.

“They'll see the contractor in town working, but other than that, no there shouldn't be any service interruption at all,” Paternoster said.

The project's funding came from a grant in 2016, according to the information, through Rural Development's Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households program.

Pence was one of five projects in four Wisconsin communities — with the city of Mondovi, the village of Sullivan, the town of Sullivan Sanitary District No. 1 and the village of Paddock Lake — to receive funding. One Upper Peninsula community — the village of Alpha, near Crystal Falls in Iron County — received $787,000 in funds for improvements to the water system.


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