Decatur County Rural Water (DCRW) expects to have its new building completed and open for business before next winter’s first snowfall.
So announced John Wetzel Wednesday afternoon, the project’s lead engineer on behalf on Midwestern Engineers. Wetzel told a gathering of DCRW board members, representatives from the USDA’s Department of Rural Development, members of city government and others that the 5,300 square-foot facility would consolidate DCRW’s operations.
The group gathered at the Hampton Inn to launch the project and conduct a formal ground-breaking ceremony at the construction site of the new facility: 3455 North U.S. Highway 421.
“I’ve worked with DCRW 16 years,” Wetzel said. “And of all the water utilities we work with, none has been more aggressive in expanding to meet the needs of their community.”
Wetzel characterized the new DCRW building as a “long time coming.”
The new building will have two portions: A steel-framed portion and a wood framed portion. The steel-framed portion will be used for equipment storage, Wetzel said, including vehicles and materials.
Longtime DCRW General Manager Doreen Oesterling added that, at the moment, the utility operates from rented suites, which don’t have adequate space for the company’s needs and, more importantly, aren’t handicap accessible.
The DCRW currently runs its day-to-day office from those rented suites, while storing its vehicles and materials at another location. A third location serves as a meeting place for the DCRW Board.
Oesterling stressed, however, that the handicap accessibility issue at the DCRW business facility is an overriding concern.
“That’s been part of our main focus with this building project,” she explained.
With the utility’s recent “Phase 4 and 5” expansions in 2008 and 2010, respectively, space has become more and more of an issue.
“I’ve wanted a new facility since I first came on in 1998,” Oesterling said. “We’re running out of room.”
The Phase 4 expansion, the utility manager added, was funded through $3.2 million in loans and various grants from USDARD.
The Phase 5 expansion was funded through forgivable USDARD loans, which DCRW was ultimately exempted from paying back.
Following Phase 4, Oesterling said, DCRW had a significant amount of left-over grant money, and that’s where the idea for a new facility began.
Board President Larry Huff agreed the new facility is badly needed, adding that he expects DCRW’s expansion to continue in the coming months and years, including the addition of both new residential and business customers.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.