Earth Day recognized by BIC students
Dr. Kima Stewart, principal, and several hundred Buffalo Island Central students hosted an Earth Day celebration and Project Funding Announcement April 21 at Buffalo Island Central West Elementary in Monette.
State Representative Dan Sullivan spoke with students prior to the ceremony and joined in the congratulations and support given by representatives for Senator John Boozman, Senator Tom Cotton and Congressman Rick Crawford.
Jacob Sawyer of Craighead County Solid Waste Authority shared a presentation emphasizing the importance of education in recycling and conservation.
Students performed in an Earth Day presentation consisting of choreographed musical selections lead by Director Stacey Qualls. Following the performance, a Power Point presentation was viewed sharing local student activity in preparation for Earth Day.
Monette Mayor Jerry Chub Qualls gave a proclamation announcing the 36th anniversary of Earth Day and shared news concerning the replacement of the City's old waste water treatment plant. A new plant will be constructed with support funding provided by the USDA Rural Development.
Mayor Qualls announced in the proclamation "The city of Monette especially wants to recognize and pay tribute to the administrators, faculty and support staff of Buffalo Island Central School District and the boys and girls who attend each of the school campuses. Through their efforts, Buffalo Island Central School is developing the next generation of leaders for our city, county, state and nation."
Built in the 1980s, the current wastewater plant treats up to 200,000 gallons per day and no longer meets standards set by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). In three years the city has had 32 effluent violations and is under an Administrative Consent Order from the ADEQ for improvements to the plant. A 350,000 gallon per day wastewater treatment plant will be constructed to replace it.
The city of Monette accepted a $1.397 million loan and a $1.005 million grant to update the City's wastewater treatment plant. The new plant will support an existing 540 customers and allow room for future growth.
Stephen Lagasse, Arkansas USDA Community Program Director introduced Keith Adams, Assistant Administrator for the Telecommunication Porgram, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. He spoke with students of accomplishments achieved by the initiative.
Adams shared with students the USDA's theme for Earth Day 2016 as "Our land, our water, our future. Let's preserve it."
On behalf of USDA State Director Lawrence McCullough, Adams presented Mayor Qualls with a certificate for Earth Day Celebration April 22, 2016.
"Thank you for your leadership," Adams said. "Thank you all for your dedication in making sure that Monette remains a safe and great place to live."
On April 19 a nationwide Earth Day Project announcement was made by Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. More than $183 million in loans and grants supporting 16 projects in 33 states have been awarded.
Adams said, "There is no better time than Earth Day to work cooperatively to talk about ways to conserve water and ensure that all Americans have access to waste water systems."
Adam's shared that projects in Arkansas received more than $13.8 million in loans and grants to improve water and wastewater quality. The Monette project was one of eight approved.
Benton County WD #1 received a $926,000 loan to improve water pressure by replacing six inch lines with eight inch lines. The change is expected to allow growth in the area which is currently under a "No New Connection Policy due to low pressure.
Buffalo Island Regional Water District located outside of Monette received a loan of $1,001,00 and a grant of $181,000 to develop an additional water well, make improvements at the treatment plant and make improvements at the office site.
The City of Mammoth Spring received an additional $284,00 grant to the previous $474,000 loan and $471,000 grant. The additional grant will fund a higher than expected bid for wastewater system improvements.
Southwest Water Users PWA received a $3,141,00 loan to be used to alleviate low pressure during peak usage.
St. Francis received a SEARCH grant of $16,300 to hire an engineer to develop a Preliminary Engineer Report and Environmental Reports. The reports are needed in order to make improvements to water pressure and reduce water loss caused by deterioration.
Ward received a $4,860,000 loan to replace the current 300,000 gallon per day wastewater treatment plant with a new 1.5 million gallon per day plant.