Kinsman sewer work step closer to reality

KINSMAN – A federal grant / loan package that will pay for much of the work to replace broken-down septic systems in a part of the township here is official.

Trumbull County commissioners on Wednesday closed on $8.3 million that’s being provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the wastewater treatment project, fittingly, at the Times Square Restaurant, a mom-and-pop-style diner that’s overcome its own septic issues while waiting for this project to happen.

The area of Kinsman was among several in the county identified in 2007 by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency as being a potential health risk due to nonworking or malfunctioning septic systems.

This sewer project at $10.6 million is one of the most expensive being done to fix the problems, which is why it took years and considerable wrangling with the USDA over the massive loan / grant package that makes it affordable for residents.

Other funding is a combination of other state and federal grants. Users will pay about $30 a month the next 20 years to pay off the project’s debt, plus a one-time fee of $1,800 to connect to the system.

”Not only will this state-of-the art sewer system protect the environment, it also will increase economic development opportunities for Trumbull County residents for decades to come. New businesses will feel more confident in locating here, making it possible for the next generation of Kinsman area residents to stay here and raise families,” Tony Logan, U.S. Department of Agriculture state director for rural development in Ohio, said.

Work is expected to begin in early December and last about a year.

Bipartisan support from federal lawmakers helped make the project happen. Former U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, a Republican, was solidly behind the project, and his successor, Republican Dave Joyce picked up that support. Democrat U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan backed the project, too, even though it’s happening in Joyce’s neighboring 14th Congressional District.

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Republican Rob Portman also threw their support to the project.

”This is really a mark of good government … everybody putting down their differences to find a solution to the problem,” said Kevin Benacci of Joyce’s office.

Locally, Trumbull County’s Sanitary Engineer’s Office and Planning Commission secured the funding.

The project is being done in two parts. The first took the old Kraft Cheese plant, donated by Kinsman businessmen Dick Thompson and Dave French, near the intersection of state Routes 5 and 7, and revamped it to be a municipal sewage treatment plant large enough to accommodate 25,000 gallons of waste a day.

Phase two will include expanding the treatment plant to 125,000 gallons a day to handle the new connections and installing the sewers.

While officials worked to finalize the project, the diner’s operators, Carol and Ken Wilson, and the building owner, Thompson, found themselves running afoul of Ohio’s water pollution control laws because of a faulty septic system .

The matter found itself in a lawsuit that was settled in September. The restaurant will connect to the new system when it is complete.