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Town applies for grant to help evaluate water system

By J.R. Williams -- jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

MIDDLETOWN -- Grant money could put the town on track to develop new water sources that are crucial to accommodating future development, according to Mayor Marshall J. "Mark" Brown.

With the help of local contractor Anderson & Associates and town maintenance staff, Brown has applied for a $45,000 grant through the Virginia Department of Health to help shape a future for the town's water supply.

Middletown buys its water from the city of Winchester, which sells the town as much water as it can, Brown said at a Town Council meeting on Monday.

But the growing town has twice been turned down by the city for an increase in water supply. The noncompetitive grant, which does not require matching funds from the town, Brown said, will first help reduce losses.

The town already has replaced half the water meters in town, which more accurately bill customers for the water they use. But 26 percent of the water the town buys is lost to aging, leaking pipes, he said.

The town repairs about 10 leaks per year, at about a $2,100 repair cost for each, Councilwoman Martha H. "Marty" Ingram has said.

"We've got to prepare the infrastructure," Brown said. "It's disintegrated over the years."

About $15,000 of the grant money will be used to detect those leaks and have them repaired, he said.

The rest of the money will go toward updating the town's infrastructure maps, evaluating the town's current situation and suggesting new water sources, such as wells.

To pay for new pipes, Brown is looking at revenue from future developments proposed across Interstate 81. The move across the interstate also means new revenue streams, including the authority to police the interstate.

In other matters:

* Plans to bring a national Civil War memorial to Middletown continue to move forward.

Following a meeting with Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, town officials are attempting to schedule a meeting with both Sen. Jim Webb and Sen. Mark Warner. The town is seeking legislation that would certify the memorial as a national landmark.

Town officials have asked for the week of Sept. 8 for the meeting, and are waiting on a response, Brown said.

* It was announced that FEMA has awarded the town a dozen laptops as part of a surplus property program.

One Hewlett-Packard laptop will be given to each Town Council member and the mayor for their use, Brown said.

The new equipment is in addition to $4,500 the town paid to Dell recently for a new server, two desktop machines and one laptop for upgrades to its main office.

* A Labor Day softball tournament has been scheduled for Sept. 5 at the town park. Teams are still able to register by calling 877-4594.

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