Northern Blair sewer authority gets $1 million grant for repairs

TIPTON – Two years ago, suspicions regarding the state of the sewer system prompted Northern Blair County Regional Sewer Authority officials to conduct a study.

The study found significant portions of underground piping had collapsed, contained large voids or were cracked and separated. More than 97 percent of the piping was deemed as needing repair.

Tom Halloran, water and energy project manager for Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc. said many of the pipes simply had reached the end of their life and carried a price tag of $3.4 million to replace.

Sewer authority members now can breathe easier: Officials revealed Friday that they will receive a $1 million grant for infrastructure repairs and upgrades in Tipton and parts of surrounding Antis Township.

Sewer authority Chairman Leo Matuszewski said the area is “in dire need of refurbishment and repair” and the grant will play a significant role in keeping costs under control.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said.

Carolyn Boser Newhouse, deputy secretary for the Department of Community and Economic Development, announced the awarding of the Infrastructure Development Program grant as part of the department’s Pennsylvania First Program.

She told officials at a press conference that Gov. Tom Corbett is committed to working with the private sector to grow the economy, and that the grant was an example of public-private cooperation that benefits all involved.

While the grant does not pay for the project entirely, it will allow repair work to begin and significantly reduce cost to local businesses and residents.

The sewer authority’s system includes 60 miles of sewer and nine pump stations and currently serves approximately 4,000 residential, commercial and manufacturing customers throughout Tipton, Bellwood borough and Snyder and Antis townships.

Repairs will include replacing about 6,000 feet of pipe and repairing another 27,000 feet with cured-in-place pipe lining. Workers also will replace or repair manhole covers.

State Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Hollidaysburg, said he’d been working on securing the grant ever since the sewer authority told him repairs were needed and that fixing the pipes “will not only benefit the business community in northern Blair County, but also residential homes as well.”

Newhouse said repairs will give local business owners incentive to invest and “help preserve hundreds of jobs and open the door for new business expansion and job creation.”

Several businesses have committed to continue or expand operations at their current sites.

Four companies – ORX, Kunzler & Co. Inc., DelGrosso Foods and Balfurd Cleaners – plan to expand operations, adding at least 67 new jobs.

Stern said the grant is an example of how private and public interest can work together for the good of the community and the environment.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.