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Income survey for Devola sewer moves forward

MARIETTA  — An income survey that could help secure grant funding for a portion of the county’s sewering of Devola will be moving forward soon.

Buckeye Hills Regional Council has been given the addresses of those to be impacted by the court-ordered sewering and the council will use this list to form a random selection of addresses that will receive an income survey.

Washington County Engineer Roger Wright said several mapping systems were used to exclude any Devola addresses that currently have sewer, along with churches, businesses and rental properties that aren’t eligible for any grants.

Bret Allphin, Buckeye Hills development director, said it’s a long shot to qualify for a Community Development Block Grant, but if awarded, it would fund $750,000 in construction costs for the project.

He explained that more than 50 percent of Devola’s homes would need to be in the low-to-moderate income range to qualify, and Muskingum Township sits at 19 percent, according to the 2010 census.

Wright explained that as Devola isn’t incorporated, it is part of Muskingum Township. There may be higher incomes in the township as a whole that are throwing the percentage numbers for Devola off. If only Devola is surveyed, there will be more a more accurate percentage of low-to-moderate income residents.

Allphin said the income survey is now being done just in case it could increase that percentage enough for qualification.

“Typically this far below the line, the likeliness of getting the grant is slim,” Allphin said. “It’s a long shot, but I’m optimistic.”

The state was petitioned and agreed to let an income survey decide whether or not Allphin can apply for a grant.

After a list of randomly selected addresses is created, it will up to the Washington County Commission to find a way to reach those homeowners. It could be done through a variety of ways, including mailers, door-to-door or through the next public meeting in April.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve hired (engineering firm) WSP to lead and instruct us on this,” said Commission President Ron Feathers. “We want to take every opportunity for grants and funding available.”

Once the survey process has begun, there is only 90 days to finish it. A certain percentage of those receiving the income survey would need to reply to it for the project to qualify for the grant.

Wright said whatever decisions are made regarding how the survey will be sent out will be posted to the project website, devolaimprovement.com

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What’s Next for the Income Survey:

* Buckeye Hills Regional Council received a list of addresses that will need to be sewered.

* They will create a random selection of houses for the income survey.

* The Washington County Commission will need to find a way to reach those on the random list, such as through a mailer, a public meeting or door-to-door.

* A certain percentage of the random list will need to return information for the survey.

* There are only 90 days for the survey process to be completed.

* If the percentage of randomly selected houses qualifies Devola for a Community Development Block Grant, Buckeye Hills will apply for the $750,000 grant.

* The grant will be used for construction costs of the sewer project.

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