Town receives two grants totalling $1.1M

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The Town of Mount Olive has received two grants totaling more than $1.1 million to move forward with economic development planning and solving flooding issues that affect certain areas during heavy rain storms.

According to the town’s Grant Search Group, a $175,000 grant was received from the Department of Commerce’s Rural Transformation Grant Fund, administered by the Rural Economic Development Division.

The grant is expected to fund the development of a master plan for the downtown district that includes a five-block area of Center Street. A qualified planning and economic development professional will be hired to work with town officials, businesses and residents.

Maps, graphics, renderings, charts and photos of areas slated for improvement will be designed to assist downtown businesses to transition from COVID-19 downturns and the impact of the sewer expansion moratorium. Mount Olive has been under a state-mandated moratorium since 2015 which has stunted its growth in both the business and residential sectors.

“We immediately put together a list of funding agencies on one side of a page and on the other side all of the projects the town wants to complete,” said Commissioner Barbara Kornegay, who helped form the Grant Search Group in March. “Needless to say, we still have projects that don’t match funding agencies, but we continue to look. It is great news to learn that two of our many efforts have fallen on good times.”

AECOM Engineering informed Jammie Royall, town manager, that the request for funds to address flooding and draining issues in the Maple Street and Nelson Street areas was successful.

The $964,100 grant will pay for installation of additional culverts to expand draining capacity and improve the overall piping connectivity near the CSX railroad. CSX provided a letter of support for the project.

The Maple Street project involves cleaning out the existing system, reconnecting offline pipes, installing a 48-inch railroad culvert and installing a new dual 24-inch trunkline.

Filling and regrading positive drainage eastward through the roadway culvert to prevent standing water in ditches and refurbishing pipes comprises the Nelson Street portion of the project.

“Our town manager and our finance director [Geoffrey Merritt] will manage the money in the [street] projects,” Kornegay said. “I will be involved in the downtown master plan. We will hire a professional to help us develop.”

Work is scheduled to begin December 2022, with construction slated for November 2023 and completed by November 2024.

Kornegay said the group continues to seek funding to replace old equipment, repair issues at the town’s wastewater treatment plan, street repair, Westbrook and Nelson Street parks upgrades and the construction of a farmers’ market.

The town has applied for a $15 million American Rescue Act grant to handle the needs at the treatment plant, particularly rotting pipes and the inflow/infiltration system.

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