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Mayor Veller Ray Carroll said Ridgecrest would continue using Bryant Hammett & Associates, LLC as engineers for Ridgecrest’s proposed tie in with Ferriday’s water system.

Carroll said he was recently approached by consultant Jatinder Goel and Rev. James Smith, both representing the Town of Ferriday, asking that they oversee the tie in.

Carroll said the town has talked to the two but no agreement reached.

 “That is between Ferriday and them,” Carroll said. “I got my own engineer, and they are working forward on the tie in.”

The Ferriday Town Council during a special meeting Monday voted to hire Goel and Smith for town projects, including overseeing its water system. Goel is from Baton Rouge, and Smith is from Rayville. The authorization was contingent on approval of the contract by the town’s attorney.

Clint Vegas of Ferriday, owner of Delta Fuel, introduced the two men to Mayor Sherrie McMahon and aldermen.

Additionally, Carroll said he and Ridgecrest officials plan to wait to see if they are awarded a Louisiana Community Block Grant (LCDBG) in April before accepting any money from the approved USDA loan / grant. 

“We are hoping to get the grant, so we won’t have to borrow any money,” Carroll said.

Carroll and aldermen discussed water plant options with Senator-elect Glenn Womack and Keith Capdepon, engineer with Bryant Hammett & Associates, LLC, at their monthly meeting Nov. 12.

A “quick fix” or emergency tie-in funded by “interim financing” was the first option given to the group by Womack. With the “quick fix,” only the “first phase” of the tie-in would be completed, but citizens would have potable water within a one-month period.

With the “quick fix,” $130,000 to $150,000 would be borrowed and paid back with funding from either obligated USDA loan / grant money or the possible LCDBG.  

In order to borrow the money, Ridgecrest officials will have to receive Louisiana State Bond Commission’s blessing.

“This quick fix would work enough to get you going and have clean water,” Womack said.

The second option was waiting for USDA funding for system improvements. In this second option, citizens would have to wait a year for potable water, Womack said.

The third option would be to wait for possible Louisiana Community Block Grant (LCDBG) funding. If approved, citizens would have to wait more than a year for potable water, Womack said.

“This is no 100 percent guarantee after a six month wait time that the state will approve this funding application,” Womack said.

The last option would be to allow JCP to increase flushing lines in Ridgecrest which would cause potential chemical cost and continued wear on the aging municipal plant.

In the last 10 months, Ridgecrest has spent $82,339 in costs concerning the water plant, Carroll said.

Womack warned citizens and officials each option came at a price.

“For what you got here (non potable water), to what you are going to have (potable water), you are going to have a rate increase,” Womack said. 

Water bills may increase to $50 in some cases.

“We have rural water systems paying $59, so you are still going to be well within range of the average cost across the state for good water,” Womack said.

Carroll warned those in attendance a price increase would be difficult for some Ridgecrest residents.

“Seventy-five percent of people (in Ridgecrest) live on a fixed income,” Carroll said. “It is going to be hard to pay back with the average (total utility) bill that is going to be around $100.”

Meanwhile, Ridgecrest began the search for a new certified part-time chief of police Nov. 21.

Former Chief of Police Thomas Goad resigned last month, Carroll said.

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