Four local agencies and municipalities are partnering together to seek grant funding for new sewer lines that officials say could greatly impact development in Paintsville and Johnson County.

On Monday, both the Johnson County Fiscal Court and the Paintsville City Council independently approved resolutions saying they were on board with the project and could assist in applying for and administering any possible grant funds for the project. According to the resolutions, Paintsville Utilities and the Paintsville/Johnson County Economic Development Authority, a branch of the Paintsville/Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, were also in support of the project. 

If funding is secured, the project would see sewer lines run from Paintsville, out of town to the west, and back south on U.S. 23 to Hagerhill before joining existing infrastructure near Van Lear. Because the city’s primary wastewater treatment plant is operating over capacity, and its other wastewater treatment plant at Honey Branch is operating only at 30 percent

capacity, the new lines would divert flow to help both plants operate together more efficiently.

Most importantly, both Johnson County Judge-Executive Mark McKenzie and Paintsville Mayor Bill Mike Runyon said, the project could have a major impact on economic development in the area.

For the county, McKenzie said, adding sewer infrastructure along these new corridors could open up development in new areas.

“It creates opportunity for development in the Teays Branch area, and anything along south U.S. 23, which would even include potential development along the Dawkins Line and the Collista area,” McKenzie said. “There’s folks who have expressed interest in the past in developing on the Dawkins Line but they’ve been limited because they haven’t been able to have public sewer.”

In the city, Runyon said that the capacity issues currently faced by Paintsville Utilities have led to a freeze on new sewer taps in the city, making it impossible for new businesses to locate to the area without using existing taps. By fixing the capacity issues, the project could mean new taps would be available within the city.

The reason for the resolutions, McKenzie said, is to bolster grant applications, as some grant-making agencies prefer municipal applicants, some prefer applicants to be economic development agencies, and all of them like to see inter-local cooperation.

Already, Paintsville and Johnson County community development coordinator Regina Hall McClure said, research is being done into possibly applying for grants through the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Appalachian Regional Commission, Kentucky Infrastructure Authority and the Community Development Block Grant program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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