BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF)
It was a phone call from the city service director that brought the mayor to tears.
“He said I just received a call from the EPA,” recalled Mayor Kathryn Thalman. “We are getting $5 million for our infrastructure. Well I’ll tell you what. I just started crying.”
Today there were speeches.
They posed for pictures.
There was even a canine companion.
But the real stars of this news conference were pictures of corroded pipes.
Now the mayor can joke about it.
“I thought they were CAT scans of my arteries!” she quipped. “But no, they’re actual pipes pulled out of the ground.”
When she took office, she was summoned to Columbus to address a water system in crisis.
“There were 22 findings and orders, and we have ticked them all off the list,” Thalman recalled.
There were water breaks all over the city.
“There were 32 last year, and we’re up to 45 breaks this year, which is a lot of breaks,” said Jeremy Greenwood, service director.
So now they won’t just repair, they’ll replace.
The plan was already drawn up.
The $5 million will cover a big part of the project.
“Two-thirds of the city if not half the city will be having the water lines replaced,” said Greenwood.
First of all, it’s a quality of life issue for people who want access to a clean, safe supply of drinking water,” said Laurie Stevenson, Ohio EPA director. “But also it helps communities to better prepare for growth and development from an economic development standpoint.”