After taking time to reflect on the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, Carroll County officials turned their attention to a bright future with the announcement of $8 million of federal funding to bring public water and sewer to Fancy Gap.
Congressman Rick Boucher quickly turned the mood upbeat as he announced the largest award of Federal Economic Recovery Act funding to the 9th District. Carroll will receive a federal grant of $2,689,000 and a low-interest loan of $1 million to bring a public water system to Fancy Gap. The county will also receive a federal grant of $2,373,000 and a loan of $2 million for a new wastewater system for Fancy Gap for a total of $8,062,000.
“Today we are celebrating not only a service that will bring a higher quality of life and more convenience for the residents of the Fancy Gap area and for the businesses that are already here, but it opens the door for a new era of economic growth and development for this southern portion of Carroll County,” Boucher told a large crowd gathered at Fancy Gap Pottery.
The award from the USDA-Rural Development funding agency will make public water and sewer available to the Interstate 77 Exit 8 interchange and to much of the Fancy Gap community. The water project will make public water service available to 190 potential customers, while the wastewater project will make sewer service available to 65 existing homes and businesses. It will also generate approximately $9 million in incremental commercial and residential investment from the development of approximately 100 acres of developable road frontage property in the project area. The investment is expected to generate approximately 72 new jobs and $262,000 in annual incremental revenue for the county.
Proposed water improvements include approximately 69,400 linear feet of 8-inch water lines, a 200,000-gallon water storage tank, groundwater supply wells, and related improvements. Proposed sewer improvements include approximately 26,000 linear feet of 8-inch gravity sewer, three sewage pump stations, 44,800 linear feet of 6-inch and smaller force mains and related improvements.
“None of this would have happened had it not been for the strong commitment of Carroll County to build these facilities,” Boucher said. “I would underscore again that this is the largest single award that has been made for a public infrastructure project here in the 9th District from the Recovery Act funds to date.”
Considering Fancy Gap is the second most traveled entry or exit point of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Boucher said the parkway offers enormous potential for economic growth and development for the creation of more travel-related industries and jobs in Carroll County.
“At the present time that simply isn’t possible because of the limit on growth that the absence of public water and wastewater facilities imposes,” Boucher said. “And so with today’s announcement and the construction for the first time of public water and wastewater systems here in Fancy Gap, that limit will be lifted and we can expect a future of economic development unparalleled in the district of Fancy Gap and this entire southern portion of Carroll County.”
Boucher noted that Friday’s announcement puts water and wastewater systems into all the Interstate 77 exits in Carroll County. That has happened thanks to similar federal funding at Exit 1 in Lambsburg and Exit 19 in Wildwood, he said.
“Now we can say that all the exits in Carroll County will have public sewer and wastewater services,” Boucher said. “And that means that each of these exits can achieve their natural potential for economic growth and development as a consequence of this funding.”
Boucher credited Fancy Gap business owner Gina Isom for being the sparkplug in the Fancy Gap community that helped make the project a reality. He said she talked to neighbors and determined public water and sewer would be essential for economic development in Fancy Gap. After organizing the project, Boucher said Isom approached the Carroll County Public Service Authority (PSA) and Board of Supervisors as well as his congressional office. They’ve all worked together over the past several years in order to obtain the funding announced Friday.
“Given the magnitude of the project and the fact that it is very costly to complete, we simply were not able to accomplish this within the regular scope of federal funding. It literally took the passage of the Federal Economic Recovery Act, that stimulus legislation to create for us the opportunity to fund this project,” Boucher said. “But that has now been accomplished and I could not imagine a better use of the federal economic stimulus funds than in building an infrastructure like this for Fancy Gap that will clearly open the doors to growth in this community and throughout the southern portion of Carroll County.”
The Virginia Department of Health also provided a grant of $25,000 for the project. Tenth District Delegate Ward Armstrong said the Fancy Gap project is a perfect example of what federal stimulus funds were designed to do.
“We are providing money for infrastructure for a community that will in turn with this water and sewer be able to grow and prosper,” Armstrong said. “That is exactly what the stimulus monies ought to be doing and I can’t think of a better use of that. Delegate (Bill) Carrico and I managed to get the water and sewer project on the state list, but that would have been further down the road in coming, and with these federal funds we were able to accelerate this project and get it done. I also want to join with Congressman Boucher in thanking Gina and all the citizens from Fancy Gap in their hard work in getting this accomplished.”
Carrico said he and Armstrong worked hard with Boucher’s office to bring public sewer and water to Fancy Gap.
“I really feel like Carroll County is going to explode with all the opportunities that are before us today and the ones that are on the burner for the future,” Carrico said. “This is a successful project and I look forward to more and working with Delegate Armstrong in making sure Carroll County is one of counties on the forefront of future growth and job opportunities.”
Carroll County PSA Chairman Sam Dickson said it is unbelievable to think Carroll County pulled off such a large project with almost 65 percent of the funds coming from grants. He thanked the citizens of Fancy Gap for pushing county officials to continue their work in bringing the project to fruition.
“Wow, what an amazing day. Who would have ever thought that Carroll County would get a project like this off the ground?” Dickson said. “Eight million dollars is a huge amount of money and I think we are going to have to increase our pocket size because we aren’t through yet. I do commend the citizens of Fancy Gap. You wouldn’t go away. You were committed on this project and you kept coming back.”
Dickson said Carroll is second only to Washington County in Rural Development funding. Other projects underway in Carroll that Dickson named include Woodlawn-Galax Sewer, Wildwood Sewer, Long-Range Water, Exit 1 Water and Sewer, and now Fancy Gap Water and Sewer.
“And those are big undertakings...but we are moving forward and looking good and we are believing that with our leaders, state and federal, that they are going to turn this economy,” Dickson said. “And guess what? Carroll County is going to be ready.”
When Isom took the stage, she said she was so proud of Fancy Gap and its wonderful people. She then listed off Fancy Gap business owners such as Paul and Kaye Burnett, Charles and Margaret Barnhardt, Kim Kinzer, Joe Ardito, Cheryl and Mark Manning, Bonnie and Dennis Hiatt, and others that made the project a reality.
“These are the people that are going to make Fancy Gap work. And I just want to know one thing, are you happy today in Fancy Gap?” Isom asked to a big round of applause from the audience.
Isom then thanked County Administrator Gary Larrowe and the Carroll County Board of Supervisors. She said they sacrifice much of their family and business time to work for Carroll County.
“And they really, really have done a good job. But where they really were ready is where this stimulus money was coming down,” Isom said. “They got their horses together, they got their I’s dotted and they were there in Richmond and Washington and they were ready to ask for what we needed. You cannot get what you want if you don’t ask. And I appreciate you so very much for that.”
Isom also thanked Delegates Armstrong and Carrico and Congressman Boucher for opening their arms up to the Fancy Gap community and their willingness to lobby for the project.
“The first thing I did was I wrote Rick Boucher a letter. I told him that I knew if we got water and sewer for Fancy Gap the money would have to come from the government, and I knew he was the man that could do it,” Isom said. “That has been two-and-a-half years ago. At that time he wrote me back and he assigned his aid Derek Lyle to us and he worked with us that first year. We talked every week, every month about anything we could do to raise awareness, and this could not happen if we did not have a congressman that when the money was there you remembered Fancy Gap, and we thank you so very, very much.”
Isom said nothing is going to stop Fancy Gap now.
“I just think that Fancy Gap is a treasure for Carroll County and the possibilities here are unlimited,” she said.
Carroll County PSA Chairman David Hutchins said Friday’s announcement marked a new era in Fancy Gap and Carroll County as a whole. He said the new board of supervisors made a pact when it came into office 21 months ago to put water and sewer systems to all the county’s interstate exits.
“I think today we are saying that we have covered the exits and some other areas. I think the board has stood fast,” Hutchins said. “We have had our ups and our downs, but it has been tremendous. The economic benefits that can be obtained here is unlimited.”