Franklin receives funding help for sewer system
April 23, 2004
Lifestyle Editor
FRANKLIN - Residents of Franklin have more than a million reasons for feeling optimistic about their community's future.

Chuck Banks, USDA Rural Development state director, presented a check Friday for $1.658 million to help fund improvements to the Franklin area's waste collection system.

This funding to Crawford County Sewer District No. 3 will benefit approximately 155 rural users. The check incorporated a $955,800 grant from USDA Rural Development and a $703,000 loan.

Tom Moody, Crawford County Commissioner, accepted the check on behalf of the district. The presentation was made near the site of the former Franklin Community Center, destroyed in the May 4 tornado.

Franklin had been seeking a sewer system even before the tornado struck, according to Craig Stokes, Franklin Community Council president. Then, it was seen as necessary for the community's growth.

After the storm, the need for a sewer became even more urgent.

"This is a key component in our rebuilding process," Stokes said. "It will give us an opportunity to proceed with our growth."

Banks agreed that the sewage collection program will promote economic growth for the area.

"You cannot establish businesses or build homes in an area without basic services such as water and sewer services," Banks said.

He noted that USDA Rural Development's Water and Waste Disposal Program is one of the agency's biggest demand areas.

"We get $14 to $16 million a year to distribute across the state, and we usually have 30 to 35 projects going," Banks said. "It's a challenge to keep up with the demand. Sometimes the wheels move slowly, and that's frustrating to us."

But, he added, water and waste disposal projects also have the highest multiplying effect.

"That is, for every $1 we put into projects of this nature, it generates $15 in private investments," Banks said. "This promotes the economic growth of the area, supports new jobs for the region and enhances the quality of life for the community's residents."

"Our project will benefit both Franklin and Arma, since Arma will be processing our sewage," Stokes said. "It's an extremely cost-effective use of the funding."

After leaving Franklin, Banks went to the Crawford County Courthouse in Girard to present a $591,000 check to Crawford County Sewer District No. 5 to help fund improvements to the Radley and South Radley area waste collection system. This is expected to benefit approximately 62 rural users.

Both check presentations marked the 34th anniversary of Earth Day, Banks said, as an opportunity to highlight what USDA Rural Development is doing through the environment through community water and wastewater infrastructure programs.

"USDA Rural Development is announcing around $200 million in projects around the nation on Earth Day, and nearly $2 million of that is going to Crawford County," Banks said. "Waterways and groundwater resources in Kansas will be saved and protected for our children and future generations through development of the new sewage collection system."

"Rural Development works very hard to help a lot of people, and I think they sometimes don't get enough credit for that," Stokes said.

The community of Franklin was also cheered by letters from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who praised residents for their optimism and community spirit, and from U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who asked government agencies involved in rebuilding Franklin to review the facts of the case, explain their decisions and do this as quickly as possible.

Among those attending the check presentation were Anne Emerson from U.S. Sen. Brownback's office, and Jim Allen, representing U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun. Both said they were pleased about the funding.

"I've adopted Franklin as a kind of home of mine," Allen said.

"We feel close to Franklin," Emerson added, "and we applaud their courage and creativity."

Now, Stokes said, the community needs to get the word out about how much it has to offer. He said he's confident that, with the sewer coming in, homes and businesses will follow.

Jack Kramer of Kramer Engineering said that work will start in the next two weeks on an engineering design. After it is completed, the design must be submitted to USDA Rural Development for approval. He estimated that actual work on the sewer system should start within the year, possibly late fall or early spring.

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