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Sewage connection deadline looms

JACKSONTOWN – March 21, Licking Township Trustee President Joe Hart said the Licking Township Fire Company building – on top of the hill– was successfully connected to Jacksontown’s new sewer system, but there are some challenges connecting Station No. 3 down the hill along Ohio 13.

May 1 is the deadline for residents and businesses in the Jacksontown area to connect to the $4 million, Ohio EPA mandated sewer system.

“Everyone has to hook up,” said Trustee Dave Miller. He said the new system has roughly 100 connections and runs south past the ODOT offices on Ohio 13. “(Licking County Water and Wastewater Director) Kevin Eby and Mark Schaffer Excavating worked really well with the township,” Miller said.

Eby said roughly 50 percent of the structures the EPA requires to connect to the sewer have done so. “We’ll be sending letters to remind people of the May 1 deadline,” he said.

Otherwise, Eby said those who don’t comply with the Ohio EPA requirement to connect to the sewer system by May 1 would receive a court order to connect immediately. If the court order isn’t successful, Eby said those who don’t comply would be fined an amount that’s yet to be determined.

Eby said Jacksontown residents could expect to see Schaffer Excavating return to Jacksontown to repair the last of any lawn damage the sewer project caused.

Eby said all residents and businesses are required to connect if within 200 feet of a sewer collection line. “The residents have to pay to connect and hire a contractor to install new lateral line and abandon existing septic system,” he said.

The connection fee for the sewer system is $3,000 for residents with existing properties, and those within 200 feet of a sewer collection line must connect to it by May 1, 2016.

Ohio EPA ordered Licking County Commissioners roughly nine years ago to build a wastewater collection system to serve about 125 residents and businesses in the Jacksontown area. The order was issued after Ohio EPA determined that failing septic systems were polluting a stream and drainage ditches. The collection system would connect to an existing line near the Lakewood Schools complex to be conveyed to the Buckeye Lake wastewater treatment plant.

Licking County submitted plans for a permit-to-install (PTI) in May 2009 and the final revised plans on Oct. 28, 2010. Ohio EPA issued a PTI on Nov. 8, 2010, that required construction to start within 18 months. The PTI included a cost estimate of $2,151,280 with construction starting in July 2011, with work lasting approximately 11 months.

Eby said the project ran roughly 20 percent over budget, and he had hoped substantial completion would have occurred February 2014, but Mother Nature intervened.

“The main challenge was the extremely wet spring and early summer,” Eby said previously. “Schaffer Excavating also ran into several areas of very poor soil conditions. These were the main cause for delayed completion and additional construction cost.”

In other Licking Township news:

• It’s a long shot, but Licking Township Fire Company Chief Mike Wilson told trustees he was applying for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, possibly to increase Station 2 staffing in Franklin Township, which doesn’t have 24-hour coverage. Wilson said it’s a two-year, $460,000 grant, and at the end of the two years, should the grant be awarded, the township can decide whether to retain one or more of the staff members or lay them off completely. He said it’s a non-matching grant, meaning the township is not required to contribute a small amount of money to the grantor in order to receive the entire grant.

Wilson said being awarded the competitive grant is a long shot and even if the township were awarded the grant, it wouldn’t collect any revenue until 2018. Still, he believes it’s worth a try.

In news from the trustees’ April 4 meeting,

• Trustees approved pay raises for employees of the road department and the Licking Township Fire Company, including a $1 per hour increase across the board for township firefighters. They also approved a pay raise for Wilson, bringing his annual salary to $64,000. “I didn’t expect it, but thank you,” Wilson said, adding he really appreciated the firefighters’ raises.

• Trustees approved adding two fire department personnel, for two hours each, to man the fire station Sunday nights from eight to 10 p.m.

• Miller said Chad Brown, deputy health commissioner and director of environmental health for the Licking County Health Department, would attend the April 18 trustee meeting to explain upcoming septic system inspections in Licking Township. Miller said Licking Township has some serious septic system issues compared to the rest of the county, and Brown wants to explain to trustees and residents how the inspection process would work.

“Licking Township is in actually one of the top seven places that has problems,” Miller said, particularly near Kirby and Sandy Lane.

• Miller said the annual Licking Township Roadway Clean-Up Days will be April 21 through 23. Gloves and bags will be provided. Tire Recycle Day is May 14 at Station 3.

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