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Infrastructure improvements top Winnsboro Mayor John Dumas’ 2022 goals.

Winnsboro will use $1.6 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to partially rehabilitate its aging sewer plant, but to completely revamp the sewer system could take approximately $4 million, according to Dumas.

Along with the wastewater treatment plant, Winnsboro has been repairing, rebuilding and refurbishing its pump stations throughout town. Winnsboro has 17 sewer pumping stations with two pumps at each station.

Past problems with the aging pumping stations have caused neighborhood streets to be shut down at times and created a financial burden for Winnsboro as they leased pumps for nearly $3,000 a month.

“Water is in pretty good shape, but we do have water tanks and some pumps that need to be worked on,” Dumas said. “But the majority of the funds we will be utilizing to repair the sewer (system).”

Winnsboro applied for seven grants and received six, according to Dumas.

Including the ARPA grant, Winnsboro received two Como Foundation grants for Davis Park and Winnsboro’s Walking Trail, a revenue bond grant for repairs of the water tank, Main Street cooperative endeavor grant for improvements and a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for lift station improvements.

“We’re proud of ourselves as far as (the grants) are concerned,” Dumas said. “We’re going to be busy spending that money in the right way.”

Additionally, officials will continue with town economic development such as the repair and expansion of Franklin Rubber Resources (FRR) LLC at Winnsboro’s industrial park.

At their December meeting, Town Council members gave their support to apply for capital outlay funds to repair important fire-damaged equipment. 

On Jan. 1, 2018, a fire destroyed FRR’s crumb line, a mechanism used to make road material out of rubber tire chips. Before the fire, FRR’s facility was shut down for two weeks and cause of the fire was never determined.

Approximately $2.2 million was required to complete the grinding line operation, according to a breakdown Town Council members reviewed.

FRR employs 33 people, but with a new crumb line the company could add 12 direct jobs and 12 - 15 related jobs, according to the breakdown. FRR is Winnsboro’s largest private employer.

Partnering with Northeast Louisiana Power Cooperative to provide broadband internet services to Winnsboro was also mentioned as one of Dumas’ goals.

“Broadband needs to be available to our families and businesses as reasonable and feasible as possible,” Dumas said. “We have already given a letter to support, and we will be looking at working with them in the very near future.”

Meanwhile, Dumas said officials will continue to improve policing in Winnsboro.

Town Council members recently agreed to a six-month contract with Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office to provide added police protection in Winnsboro’s corporate limits.

“We don’t have an adequate force of police in our town’s department and this is what it is going to take to make sure we do,” Dumas said. “Hopefully, with this contract we will.”

Also, Dumas wants to expand the push to rid residential blighted property to commercial blighted property.

“We do have some properties in the town area that need to be renovated or demolished in order for us to look better but also for the safety of our people,” Dumas said.

Finally, officials will continue to improve on town parks starting with Davis Park and expanding to other public parks.

“This will be an attraction for people coming in and heading out of our town,” Dumas said. “Improvements will make this park a better place for our children to play and enjoy themselves.”

Dumas said his administration has accomplished much in three years but there is more to do.

“We’ve done a lot in the last three and a half years,” Dumas said. “We don’t pity the situation any, and we realize we inherited some problems but we also recognize we must do our job and do it efficiently. All we can do is make our best better. We are going to move forward to make Winnsboro a better place to work, live and play.”

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