November 25, 2009 Edition

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Walnut Ridge Mayor Michelle Rogers (from left), Hoxie Mayor Donnie Roberts, Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham and A.J. Henry, chairman of the Northeast Arkansas Public Water Authority, were among those on hand for a groundbreaking for the new water treatment plant on Friday.

Groundbreaking held for plant

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Northeast Arkansas Regional Water Authority's water treatment plant was held on Friday afternoon at the site where the new facility will stand on Highway 361 near Black Rock.

Officials included Arkansas Natural Resources Commission Chief of Water Development Mark Bennett; John Moran, liaison to Gov. Mike Beebe; Chad Causey, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Marion Berry; Rural Development of Arkansas State Director Lawrence McCullough; Rickey Carter with the United States Department of Agriculture; Roger Fisher of Sen. Blanche Lincoln's office; Hoxie Mayor Donnie Roberts; Walnut Ridge Mayor Michelle Rogers; Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham; representatives from Crist Engineers of Little Rock and BRB of Kansas; A.J. Henry, chairman of the Northeast Arkansas Public Water Authority and other water board members and city councilmen from the area.

Henry told those assembled that it was a joy to break ground for the $10 million dollar project after working on the project since 2001.

"We were determined to see the water authority become a reality," Henry said. "Every Lawrence County town needs it and will benefit greatly from it."

He praised and thanked congressional representatives, the USDA, Arkansas Department of Rural Development and the Arkansas Department of Natural Resources, as well as local politicians and board members who were instrumental in the process of seeing the water authority become a reality.

County Judge Alex Lathem said, "I appreciate the congressional folks who have worked hard on this, but it's the first time in many years I've seen everyone in the county working together as they have on this. We've got to work as a team to make things like this happen."

"I'm ecstatic, this is a wonderful day for Walnut Ridge and the whole area," Walnut Ridge Mayor Michelle Rogers said.

"Our kids and grandkids will be blessed by this," Hoxie Mayor Donnie Roberts said. "We will have clean, affordable water for our citizens and it will also help with economic development."

Henry said the authority will begin pumping water in the spring of 2011.

The building has been designed for six high-pressure pumps, but will only be using two in the beginning.

"We are hoping to place pumps in those spots as more towns join the authority," Henry said.

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