Proposed sewer project -- Maybe Roe Acres in, maybe Bobo area out

    Roe Acres could be in and the Bobo area may be out of the target area for a proposed $4.5 million sewer project to serve the rural areas of northern Adams County.
    That was the tenor at a Wednesday evening meeting of the Adams County Regional Sewer District board as members outlined the need to get "the best bang for our buck" as the project inches toward its final configuration.
    The county sewer board has spent the past several months attempting to finalize its cost estimates for the project following the receipt of a $2 million rural development grant and $2.5 million in low-interest loans earmarked to construct and maintain sewer lines designated to serve approximately 233 homes. Talks in recent months have focused on the construction of a sewer line to service the unincorporated areas of Monmouth, Bobo, Pleasant Mills and Arcadia Village.
    But on Wednesday night, with a handful of interested citizens in attendance, the board discussed adding and subtracting homes in an attempt to keep construction costs to a minimum and to keep user fees for those served by the sewer system lower than the most recent rough estimate of $95 per month.
    Among the options discussed by board members was the inclusion of Roe Acres, a cluster of some 25 homes north of Monmouth, to the service area. The addition of 40 more homes along U.S. 33 between Pleasant Mills and Arcadia Village was also suggested, while some members of the board said construction costs could be reduced by removing the Bobo area from the design altogether.
    Board member Barry Ehinger suggested that financial incentives could be offered to homeowners along U.S. 33 and elsewhere that would allow them to join the project from the beginning at a reduced connection cost.
    Board member and county sanitarian Terry Smith said that while Bobo "is one of the most horrendous areas of the county (in terms of household sewage entering county waterways), but we need to look at concentrated population areas" when selecting a region to be served by the new sewer line.
    Ben Adams, the regional sewer board's consultant from Commonwealth Engineering, said removing Bobo from the target area "makes some sense."
    Some community members in attendance were critical of the board for not including a rural area northeast of Monmouth for inclusion in the project.
    "We've gotta start somewhere," said Ehinger. "There's a whole lot of problem and only a little money, so you build your system one piece at a time."
    Board member Tim Barkey said talks have been ongoing with the city of Decatur in an attempt to get a concrete idea of the annual operation, maintenance and billing costs associated with the sewer line. Sewage collected by the system will be sent to Decatur for treatment, and Decatur in turn will bill the rural sewer board for those costs.
    "I think we're getting close to having those answers," said Decatur Mayor John Schultz, a member of the rural sewer board.
    Ehinger said discussions have been going on "month after month after month after month; when are we going to make a decision?"
    Schultz suggested that final cost estimates will be available by the board's February meeting. "Hopefully in the next couple of months we're going to have these things figured out and we'll be ready to say nay or yea," he said.