Grant sought for Brownsville water system upgrades

ROBBIE WAXMAN, a local grant writer, speaks to the Ouachita Parish Police Jury earlier this week about applying for up to $1.5 million to improve the Brownsville water system.

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury learned earlier this week that it could apply for a grant of up to $1.5 million to make improvements to the Brownsville water system.

Robbie Waxman III, a local grant writer, told the Police Jury on Monday that state Community Development Block Grant could be available to the parish if the grant application was competitive enough.

The project entails improvements to the water system in the area near the Graphic Packaging paper mill.

“We’re trying to make our final decision on the size of the project,” Waxman said. “We’re considering $1.5 million, though we may pare that down a little.”

Police Juror Ollibeth Reddix asked how many households could benefit from the upgrades, if the grant was secured.

“I think it was around 600,” Waxman said. “We have a good project.”

According to Waxman, more than 50 percent of the residents in the project area must be at “low to moderate income.”

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” said Waxman, referring to the score given to projects that met certain criteria like socioeconomic status.

Police Juror Walt Caldwell asked Kevin Crosby, a parish consulting engineer, to weigh in on the project’s merits.

“I think this is a good area to have a project in,” Crosby said. “Greater Ouachita is regularly experiencing blow-outs and other issues around there.”

According to Crosby, flushing the lines in the Brownsville water system is partially limited because “the lines are so brittle.”

The project would replace two-inch water mains and smaller galvanized water mains that were originally installed in the 1950s.

“The old water mains have deteriorated to the point that continuous maintenance is required because of leaks,” Waxman said. “The project would replace the water mains with four-inch mains.”

When asked, Brad Cammack, parish treasurer said, “It will be no cost to the Police Jury.”

Meanwhile, the Police Jury voted unanimously to make The Ouachita Citizen its Official Journal for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

On another front, the Police Jury recognized one parish employee for their years of service: Jonathan Clampit for 15 years of service at the parish public works department.

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