By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — BELLE RIVE — Architect Craig Olsen of Heneghan and Associates called Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting of the new Moores Prairie Township Water Co. system a day to celebrate.
“Can I get a big yahoo?” Olsen challenged the audience of about 75, which was accepted by those attending the ceremony at the Sugar Camp Baptist Church.
“We’re celebrating an American systems success. You’ve got local, state and federal government that have all stepped up over a period of time. They stepped up because you, the citizens here, had a need, and you had the persistence and determination to solve a problem.”
“If you are standing on this parking lot, you have had a hand in this project,” said Moores Prairie Township Water Co. President Kathy Dagg. “Whether it be a pat on the back, encouragement, sitting at a board meeting, giving us guidance, you’ve had a part in this. I want to call this a celebration because that’s what it is for all of us today.”
Former Jefferson County Board Chairman Ted Buck thanked board member Jim Laird and former board member Dexter Edmison, and the “person who was the backbone for the entire project, Ike Kirkikis, retired director of the Greater Egypt Regional Planning & Development Commission. “He put his heart and soul into this until he retired a couple of years ago,” Buck said.
Chairman Robert White said he is appreciative of all the efforts into the project. “For everyone who has had a part in this project, I personally thank you and I’m glad we’re able to see this to a conclusion today, and I wish you folks the best of luck.
Jere Shaw, board member of the Rend Lake Conservancy District said he has been lobbying for more than seven years for the water company.
“I don’t take responsibility for it … but I’m pleased and want to congratulate you and the people of Moores Prairie and pleased to celebrate in this ceremony,” he said.
“It’s so appropriate you gathered at the church because I have an idea several prayers have been sent up,” said Cappy Scates, staff assistant for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “I’m really happy to see children here because that’s who you did it for. It’s going to be convenient for all of you hooking up on the line, but it’s for the future that you have taken these chances, made these plans, and taken the plunge.”
Tabitha Meador, legislative aid for State Rep. John Cavaletto offered congratulations on behalf of the legislator, who was in Springfield.
“He appreciates your work in serving the people in this township,” she said.
Molly Hammond, assistant to state director Colleen Callahan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development said the Moore’s Prairie project has been chosen as the 2013 Earth Day project. Area Director Rusty Wanstreet and Area Specialist Kim Swisher also attended on behalf of the organization.
Also acknowledged during the 30-minute program were Matt Flanigan, attorney for the district, John Trotter of J.K. Trotter & Sons, and the Village of Belle Rive.
Rural Development provided a $623,000 grant and a $318,000 loan to construct the 24 miles of water main. The project has been ongoing for several years. Construction began a little over a year ago and is nearing completion.