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Ridgecrest residents are once again dealing with brown-tinted water, while Clayton has received a grant.

The worn Ridgecrest water plant started producing murky water last weekend, Mayor Veller Ray Carroll said. The decades-old plant has been an ongoing problem in Carroll’s term as mayor, which he acknowledges sometimes sends him to the breaking point.

 “I’m doing the best I can, but my hands are tied,” Carroll said. “There is nothing more I can do. I’ve told the people we may have to live with this until we can get our grant.” 

Ridgecrest is one of 60 applicants in the second stage of seeking funding from part of a $20 million Louisiana Community Block Grant  (LCDBG) allocated by the Office of Community Development. 

Final funding decisions were originally scheduled for early April but have been delayed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, Ridgecrest was approved for a USDA loan / grant totaling $999,000 to fund the tie in with Ferriday. Of the total amount approved by the USDA, $565,000 is a loan and $434,000 is a grant.

Carroll said before he agrees to the loan, residents must come to him and sign off on their support of the transaction.

“If we don’t get the grant, I don’t know if I’m going to sign off on the loan or not,” Carroll said. “I’m not going to be the villain that done (the loan). People will have to come here and sign off on it. The people will have to let me know if they want to tie into Ferriday.”

Carroll acknowledged water rates would have to go up if Ridgecrest goes with the loan.

“It’s just whether they want drinkable water or not,” Carroll said.

He reminded residents the water plant’s current condition did not “happen over night.”

“The water plant is the way it is because there has been no proper upkeep,” Carroll said. “The plant is just worn out. One thing after another is happening, and we have run out of options. If you think you can do a better job, well here’s the keys.”

Funding from the loan or grant will bankroll the sandblasting and cleaning of the interior and exterior of Ridgecrest’s water tower. 

Money will also be used to purchase and install a new ground storage tank, install a water line from Ferriday’s water plant to Ridgecrest’s storage tank, purchase new radio-controlled water meters and install a handicap bathroom in city hall. The water line will run down Vidalia Drive.

Meanwhile, the Village of Clayton has been approved for a Louisiana Governmental Assistance Program (LGAP) grant, said Mayor Josephine Washington.

But before officials can receive funds Clayton will have to complete its 2018 financial audit. Washington said she did not know how much the grant was worth.

At the start of each fiscal year, the executive director of the Office of Community Development determines equal LGAP funding for all eligible parishes. Applications are accepted for fire protection, sewer, water, renovations to essential governmental buildings, police protection, land acquisition, demolition, equipment, roads and drainage.

Meanwhile, town hall officials are “in and out of the office” and are continuing to process utility bills, Washington said. Along with irregular town hall hours, Clayton businesses are closing early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We just ask that everybody stays safe and obey the law of the land,” Washington said.

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