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Jersey Shore receives $375K to improve water service

Accepting a $375,000 check to cover much of the $750,000 overall project cost of the repair of an exposed waterline to better serve 6,600 residential and industrial customers served by Jersey Shore Joint Water Authority, from left to right, Kate Wesson, authority board member; Jason Fink, president/CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce; state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township and Lisa Urbine, authority board member. The check was presented on Friday afternoon at the chamber headquarters in Williamsport. MARK MARONEY/Sun-Gazette

Job growth, economic opportunities and improved water service.

These are among the pluses that are expected and were expressed Friday during a news conference at the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce concerning an investment of $375,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds that have covered much of the cost to repair an exposed waterline, critical to serving 6,600 customers of the Jersey Shore Joint Water Authority in the western end of the county. These are federal funds that are assisting communities and entities as they bounce back from the devastating financial impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such investment in the Jersey Shore Joint Water Authority is expected to pay dividends for industries such as West Pharmaceutical in the borough, which also has a plant in Williamsport, and Bald Birds Brewery, in Porter Township, said Eric S. Johnston, authority manager.

It’s also going to assist residential developments in these regions, he said.

At the conference, state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, was joined and Jason Fink, chamber president/CEO, and two members of the authority board, Kate Wesson and Lisa Urbine.

Johnston was thrilled with the significant infrastructure investment and partnering with the chamber and Yaw.

“We have had an exposed waterline on Larrys Creek on Route 287,” he said.

The waterline repair project, which is expected to be wrapped up in two weeks, weather permitting, costs an estimated $750,000.

With its repair, 6,600 customers’ service will not be disrupted.

“This is a huge step for the authority and the board,” Johnston said.

The check was possible because of the senator and his hard work, and the chamber, Johnston said.

Additional thanks went out to the solicitors and consultants and employees.

The authority had good project relations with the state Fish and Boat Commission. The commission designed bank stabilization and provided labor at no charge to the authority, which provided materials, Johnston said.

Moreover, the state Department of Environmental Protection was helpful in the process and good working relationships were created, he said.

“We are looking forward to many more,” he said.

The project will not only assist the residents in the area but also industrial clients that are serviced by this waterline, Fink said.

The chamber, after initial conversation with the authority and its board, reached out to the senator and explained the situation to Yaw, Fink said.

Yaw was able to help the chamber because of the impact, not only for the Jersey Shore area but this was actually part of a $1 million grant that the chamber was able to receive that will be able to assist not only with Jersey Shore but also Montgomery Water Authority, with being able to get a generator that is required for a backup system to assist with industrial clients in the Montgomery area involving the new development in the Timber Run Industrial Park, Fink explained.

Also, he said, was another $500,000, which was already committed and which was announced previously for West Pharmaceutical’s with the Williamsport expansion they are undertaking.

Yaw said it was not a hard decision to try to facilitate the funding for the Jersey Shore area project and the other entities involved.

“The thing that really struck me was to see pictures,” Yaw said.

“It is the old story — ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,'” he said.

The pictures showed Yaw the impact of the waterline sticking out and what would happen if that waterline broke.

Almost 7,000 customers might be without water service, and these include businesses that employ large amounts of individuals who rely on that paycheck — a lot of individuals being affected by one waterline.

“I said, ‘I will do everything I can to support this, and try and fix this because there was no Plan B if that waterline broke,'” Yaw said.

No other solution was available to service that many people or industries.

In terms of ARPA funding, the senator was able to help the chamber get to the right program, Fink noted.

It will help three entities and impact a number of people within Lycoming County, he said.

Yaw said he was pleasantly surprised the funding arrived as quickly as it did because sometimes money through the state system is slow to arrive due to missteps with paperwork and other issues.

“Sometimes, it is very frustrating,” Yaw said. “I’m glad to see all of the money (arrived),” and it arrived quickly, he said.

It fell into place because right now is the time to fix the waterline as creek levels are low.

“We have been fortunate the weather has cooperated where the levels in the stream are low enough that we can get the project finished,” Johnston said.

The contractor hired was professional and knew what had to be done and the timeframe it had to get done, he said.

“It went smooth and was a great team effort,” Johnston said.

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