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Mt. Pleasant Township Municipal puts sewage project up for bid

| Monday, Aug. 3, 2009

The Mt. Pleasant Township Municipal Authority took a major step forward last week in bringing sewage to approximately 1,104 customers in Norvelt, United and Calumet. With a unanimous vote, the authority approved a motion to approve construction drawings of the Norvelt sewage project and put the project up for bid.

Once all documents are in order and a bid opening date is chosen, township engineer Doug Regola will begin the process by advertising for bids for the project. Regola explained that the contracts will be broken down into seven different documents for the sewage plant, pump station and collection system which contractors will bid on.

"One contract for this large project would be too large for local companies to be able to bid on it," Regola explained.

The fire department has agreed that the fire hall may be used for the bid opening as well as a pre-construction meeting where construction requirements will be given to contractors. Regola explained that the USDA has to attend the bid opening and that date will have to be coordinated with that organization.

The current estimated schedule is to have the construction meeting in September and the bid opening sometime in October when the lowest three bidders will be chosen. Solicitor Les Mlakar explained that no one can accept bids for the project other than the municipal authority office.

"All bids must be delivered to this office by hand or by mail," said Mlakar.

He explained in detail the process the bidders will go through. He said the process, which includes USDA approval, can take up to three months. The entire process should be finished sometime in the spring.

"Once ground is broken construction can take 18 to 24 months," said Municipal Authority Chairman Jerome Yasher.

Mlaker said once construction is under way, property owners will receive a question and answer fact sheet, a set of the rules and regulations and other beneficial information.

Funding of the sewage project was discussed. Mlaker cautioned the board not to rush the project until all of the money is in place. Regola said that although the authority has been awarded a $4.8 million H2O grant from the state, the money is not yet available. Mlaker added that nothing will move forward until the budget in Harrisburg is passed.

The board passed Resolution No. 8 of 2009, rescinding a Resolution No. 7 2009 in which the authority had voted to accept $965,000 in grant money through the Army Corp of Engineers from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The board's decision not to accept the ARRA money was based on the restrictions of the ARRA that everything for the project be made in the United States.

"Because of the uniqueness of the sewage treatment plant equipment, it became difficult to find quality pieces and most parts suppliers are outside of the United States. We were also required to have quotes for two companies and some only had a single source. In order to comply we would have to redesign the project. ARRA money was designated for shovel-ready projects and with a redesign we would no longer be shovel-ready," Regola explained.

"I have to thank everybody who has worked on this project including past board members, township supervisors and past supervisors for getting us to this point," said Yasher.

In addition, he thanked U.S. Congressman John Murtha who made it possible for the authority to receive an additional $3 million in federal grant money. He also gave credit to state Sen. Kim Ward, state Rep. Mike Reese and the Mt. Pleasant Township supervisors for helping to secure the $4.8 million H2O Grant.

"Thirty-six percent of the project will be paid for with federal grant money, 26 percent will be paid for with state grant money and 37 percent will be the responsibility of the authority, and everyone has worked together to make this happen," Yasher added. He also said that he hopes sewage rates will remain low.

Reese has expressed that same sentiment.

Questions regarding hooking into the system were asked by residents.

Regola said in some cases, there will be options where the people will be able to hook up, in other cases there may not be any leeway. There are many factors that make the determination and each resident's property is different, he explained.

"As contractors begin construction the inspector will talk with the residents, if possible, to determine where the hookup will be," Regola said.

Mlaker added that residents do not have to hook up their basement, but they cannot have grey water going into the ground.

Board members were reminded at the recent meeting that all subcontractors on the project must make sure all employees are paid a prevailing wage. In addition, all contractors' payroll records, with the exception of Social Security numbers, will be public record.

A meeting will be held with the Westmoreland Conservation District today to discuss the district's concern that the sewage project might affect a dike at the Brinkerton Abandoned Mine Drainage Reclamation Project.

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