Washington County turns to federal government for help

Published 3:10 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

By Staff
Appropriations sought to help economic development
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
PLYMOUTH — Washington County will soon ask the federal government for $4.65 million to help support the county’s 20-year economic development plan.
The board reconvened Tuesday, having recessed its Jan. 2 meeting.
The funds, if allocated, will be spent to complete five projects designed to start the county down the road to economic prosperity.
The county is asking for $750,000 to spend on an airport modernization project that will, in two phases, make the county accessible to 80 percent of all types of aircraft. The Plymouth Municipal Airport is 29 years old. Its 3,700-foot runway will not adequately support a larger private and commercial airport, according to a document the county is sending to the federal government to support is funding request. The project calls for extending the runway to 5,500 feet.
Another $750,000 will be sought from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to construct a rural health center in the eastern part of the county. Washington County Hospital, the only comprehensive health-care facility in the county, will operate the proposed center, but the county will own the center.
Two funding requests — totaling $2.2 million — for the construction of a proposed industrial/commercial complex will be made to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Part of a larger plan to attract industrial and commercial development, the 300-acre complex would include at least one 35,000-square-foot, ready-for-industry building.
The county also is seeking $950,000 grant from HUD to help construct a sewer system that would be used to attract commercial, residential and industrial development. The system would be constructed in accordance with the findings of a comprehensive sewer feasibility study being conducted for the county by the Wooten Company of Raleigh. That study should be completed by July, Peoples said.
If awarded, the HUD grant requires the county to provide a 45-percent “match,” which drew heat from Commissioner Raymond McCray.
Peoples was quick to explain that development with sewer would significantly increase the county’s tax base, indirectly benefiting all its residents.
Commissioner Jean Alexander moved to approve the funding requests and send them to Washington, D.C. With Commissioner Bill Sexton’s second putting the motion on the floor for a vote, it passed unanimously.