Governor presents $500,000 grant

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (left) and state Rep. Kelly Keisling (right) present Oneida Mayor Jack E. Lay with a check representing $500,000 in CDBG funding that will be used for sewer system improvements.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam visited Oneida this morning to deliver $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the purpose of sewer system upgrades.

The grant was the only one of its kind for a municipality in East Tennessee and will be used for the seventh phase of the town's ongoing upgrades to its sewer system.

Oneida Mayor Jack E. Lay explained that the town's sewer system was originally constructed in the early 1960s and was built mostly with clay and concrete pipe materials, with brick manholes.

In 1995, when Mayor Lay was elected, an evaluation was conducted that showed the sewer system had deteriorated more than had been expected. As a result, the town developed a plan for a phased approach to improving the system.

To date, six phases of that plan have been completed, at a cost of $3 million. Funding has consisted of CDBG funds and local funds.

Mayor Lay said that the $500,000 grant announced by Gov. Haslam will be used to conduct monitoring and smoke detection, followed by the replacement of some 6,000 linear feet of gravity line. The project will benefit 1,333 residential units, he said, of which 1,193 are located inside the Town of Oneida and another 140 are located in neighboring Winfield.

"This is very, very important for our community," Mayor Lay said.

Gov. Haslam said infrastructure projects such as the one being undertaken by the Town of Oneida will assist with industrial and economic development.

"The thing we're focused on most is how to provide jobs across Tennessee," Gov. Haslam said. "We're very well aware that rural areas struggle the most."

Gov. Haslam was greeted in Oneida by Mayor Lay and his staff, along with several of the town's aldermen and other city employees. A number of local business representatives were also on hand for the announcement.