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NCWSA to install waterlines for Baxter
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Wastewater infrastructure for Baxter International continues to move forward as the Joint Development Authority approved for the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority to install sewer lines and mains for the manufacturing facility.

The JDA board - which consists of representatives from Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties - approved permanent utility easements for NCWSA. The approved measure will grant NCWSA 14.49 acres of land owned by JDA, to install the sewer lines and water mains in Stanton Springs industrial park for Baxter International.

Paul Michael, with Technology Park Atlanta Realty and the developments planner, said a gravity sewer line will run from Stanton Springs Parkway down to Dennis Creek and follow Dennis Creek down to property that is owned by the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority.

He said a second line will be installed from the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority back up the Little River to U.S. Highway 278.

"The short term of this will be a force main that can be converted to a gravity line at some point in the future," Michael said. "That line is critical and will ultimately run into the city of Covington to a facility that the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority currently operates."

"What this will do, short-term and mid-term, is satisfy Baxter's need of sewer capacity and will satisfy our needs as the JDA and developer out here to bring additional prospects into the park," Michael said.

In November 2012, the board of directors with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority awarded the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority a $14 million Georgia Fund loan to finance the cost of the Covington sewer connection project, which will provide wastewater service to Baxter International within the Stanton Springs industrial park.

About 10,000 linear feet of gravity sewer, four wastewater lift stations and 79,000 linear feet of force main will be installed with the funding. Mike Hopkins, NCWSA executive director, previously said there was no time to build a wastewater plant on the east side of the county and this was a way to bring wastewater from Baxter to an already existing plant to be treated.

Hopkins said the wastewater project should last about 14 months and is planned to be competed in January or February 2014.

In addition to the permanent utility easement, the JDA board also approved a temporary ingress and egress license agreement with the NCWSA. The agreement will create a gravel access driveway to allow temporary road access to approximately 0.55 acres of land, which bisects Stanton Springs Parkway, to construct the sewer lines and pump station for Baxter.

Michael said the road was abandoned by the county years ago, but was incorporated again with the Stanton Springs development. He said long-term, the road may be relocated for future development of the park.

Construction and maintenance of the driveway will be the responsibility of NCWSA.

In other business, the board also approved moving forward with a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority $5.9 million loan for the wastewater treatment facility for Baxter. In April, the JDA entered agreement to fund a $7.9 million for a wastewater treatment facility on the site of Baxter. The JDA received $2 million of funding from its One Georgia EDGE Grant and the $5.9 million would come from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

Board of Commissioners for Newton, Jasper, Morgan and Walton counties approved intergovernmental agreements to carry out obtaining the loan.

Newton and Walton counties will be responsible for repaying the authority 37.5 percent or about $2.2 million each; Morgan County will be responsible for repayment of 15 percent; and Jasper County for 10 percent of the loan.

According to the requested GEFA loan terms, there will be a 0 percent interest rate required for the loan during construction, which is estimated to take place from 2013 to 2014; a 1.8 percent interest rate on the loan for post construction; amortization for 30 years; and no payments until the start of the tax abatement period, which is expected to start between 2018 and 2020.

Though the loan is scheduled to be paid back with an amortization of 30 years, Wayne Tamplin, Newton County's auditor, said the hope is to pay the loan off in about five years.

"Our intention is to pay this down as quickly as possible," Tamplin said. "If conditions change, we certainly have the option to go to the longer period if necessary."

The board also elected officers at the meeting. Alan Verner was elected chair; Kevin Little Walton County representative was elected vice-chair; Steve Jordan, Jasper County representative was appointed treasurer; and Mort Ewing, citizen representative for Newton County, was named as secretary. Verner welcomed the new board and said he looked forward to working with them.

"I'm certainly glad to have our new members on the board. I certainly look forward to you learning the ropes. Most of you are fairly familiar with how we operate with some of the things we have accomplished over the years, especially last year. But we look forward to many more in 2013," Verner said.