By BROOKE ROBINSON, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
ASHLAND — Ashland's wastewater plant capacity will increase 30 percent with no cost to taxpayers due to a $250,000 grant awarded by the Northern Border Regional Commission on Friday. The grant will fund the construction of a new septage receiving station which will increase the revenue brought in by the Water and Sewer department. This added revenue will be used to improve water and sewer infrastructure in order to provide Ashland's mill area with much needed support. Construction will likely begin in the spring and be completed within the next three years.
Eli Badger, Ashland Water and Sewer Department Commission chairperson, explained that the upgraded septage receiving station will make room for 30 percent more septage haulers from around the area. "Ashland, like every small town in New Hampshire, has an infrastructure that needs repair. The new receiving station will supply some of those funds needed to help the infrastructure without putting a burden on the citizens of Ashland," Badger said, stressing that because of this grant there will be no tax implication on town residents.
This was the second year the Water and Sewer Department applied for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) grant and their first time receiving it. Badger worked with fellow commissioners Alan Cilley and David Toth to make their grant application this year successful, receiving one of 13 grants awarded in New Hampshire out of 23 total applications, the largest pool yet.
"Our presentation this year was better," Badger said. "We learned from our presentation mistakes from last year. We got help from more outside sources than we did last year." The project received support from the Ashland Board of Selectmen, current haulers and the Lakes Region Planning Commission.
The NBRC is a federal-state partnership founded to assist the most distressed counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York with economic and community development and generating employment opportunities. In New Hampshire, Carroll, Coos and Sullivan counties are all eligible to receive NBRC funding, but only certain "isolated areas of distress" in Grafton county such as Ashland, Plymouth, Holderness, Campton and Lincoln qualify for NBRC aid.
Jeff Rose, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development and New Hampshire representative in the NBRC, said, "It's truly a federal and state partnership, but it only happens because of the work that takes place on the ground. I give my kudos to the commissioners here for putting forward a good, quality grant application." Rose also stated that these are the types of infrastructure grants that the NBRC wants to address.
"It is a positive experience, and I'm hoping that other places see that and use the resources of grant providers like (the NBRC)," Badger said. "It's amazing to me that there are so many good people that are willing to see other people succeed in these sorts of projects."
Ashland's grant came from the NBRC's Economic and Infrastructure Development program, the funds for which come from the federal government. This program funds projects such as transportation, public and telecommunication infrastructure; workforce, business and technology development; basic health care; conservation, tourism and recreation; and renewable and alternative energy. In addition to state and local governments, eligible applicants for these grants include public and nonprofit organizations as well as Indian tribes.
Ashland Water and Sewer Commissioners Eli Badger, David Toth, Alan Cilley; executive director of the Lakes Region Planning Commission Jeffrey Hayes,; Ashland Water and Sewer Plant manager Russell Cross; NBRC Program Manager Christopher Way; Federal Co-Chair of the NBRC Mark Sacarno; the NH Rep for the NBRC Jeffrey Rose; representatives from Senators' Kuster and Ayotte offices; and others gather in front of the Ashland septic lagoons. This is where construction will take place to expand capacity. (Brooke Robinson/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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