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Commissioners OK Ramseur water funds

ASHEBORO — A request by the Town of Ramseur for more than $2 million received approval by the Randolph County commissioners, but with concerns about the town’s cooperation moving forward. 


The request had been tabled from the March 4 meeting until more details could be presented to the commissioners at their April 1 session.


John Grey of The Wooten Company, which engineered the design of work on Ramseur’s water and sewer system, provided documentation on improvements to the town’s sludge-removal system and the ammonia-feed system. The estimated cost of the projects came to $2,162,500. 


The improvements are necessary for Ramseur to deliver some 600,000 gallons of water per day to the Wolfspeed microchip plant being built at the Chatham Advanced Manufacturing site just over the Randolph County line. 


Ramseur water must be converted to a chloramine disinfection to match the water being delivered by Asheboro and the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority. The sludge removal system will also have to be upgraded for the additional water production.


Will Massie, interim county manager/finance officer, said the funds are available from a state water/sewer grant. 


Darrell Frye, commission chair, said infrastructure projects in the county, including public schools, Randolph Community College and the Eastern Randolph Development Plan, “are going to require a lot of communication and a lot of cooperation, especially in status reports on these projects as they go forward. Communication, status reports, and keeping us informed is essential to carrying these projects through over several years of process to make them work."


David Allen, vice chair, said, "We continued to work with Ramseur to get memorandums of understanding with them and interlocal agreements, that kind of thing. This is part of the project to go in conjunction with Asheboro to carry water over to Wolfspeed. This accomplishes that. But it's important that the board there understands we need their cooperation and help in accomplishing that. This does some things that were not asked of us originally in the original quote."


Allen continued, "These are generational funds. We want to use them wisely. Some of them have time constraints, and we're running out of time. I don't want people to think we have unlimited resources. You're going to find that out in our budget process that we're fortunate to have these funds, but it's not an unlimited resource of funds."


Commissioner Kenny Kidd expressed doubts about cooperation from Ramseur: "These requests here are part of that whole project east. … To make everything work for every community on that side of the county, and to make Randolph County better in general. 


“But I'll just say, as far as cooperation and communication from the people who made those requests, after our meeting the other night, I don't know that I have a lot of confidence that the people that made these requests are interested in the whole project and moving forward with everyone in the eastern part of the county. I am a little concerned about that, and that's the communication I'm getting from Ramseur. I'm not just a little concerned; I'm very concerned. 


“I don't know what the next step looks like in this project going east with everyone's cooperation, with the exception of municipalities, I have no idea where that stands. That's what I want to say."


Commissioner Hope Haywood was more hopeful, saying, "I see it as a real opportunity that we've been given to address some water issues that they've been facing in the eastern part of the county, that we have not had the money to address. The state now, with Wolfspeed, they see that. They're allotting this money. We can use it wisely and help a lot of people on the eastern side of the county."


In making the motion to approve the funding, Allen said, "This is just the first step. We're taking that step a little bit in good faith. If it doesn't, we're not funding the whole project at this point."


With that, the board voted 4-1 to approve the request, with Kidd voting against.