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Residents pleasantly surprised with Marion Township sewer project

Rep. Mike Kelly shakes hands with project manager Wendy Leslie, left, and speaks with Michele Burd, center, and Marion Township Supervisor Jason McBride after a meeting on the township's new sewage treatment plant at the Marion Township Municipal Building on Wednesday, April 24. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

MARION TWP — Diane Carlantonio was worried about how the installation of a sewage system in her hometown of Marion Township would impact the area financially and disrupt local residents because of construction, but she said her fears have dissipated over the past few months.

On Wednesday, April 24, Carlantonio mourned the imminent exodus of the construction workers who recently completed the treatment plant the township had funded, because they had become close in the months they had been working. Her financial fears have also been curbed thanks to grant funding that has helped pay for the construction and tap in to the system for residents.

“Most of the people in this town, we’re on fixed incomes. When we first heard of it, we’re thinking, ‘Oh man, how are we going to be able to afford this?’” Carlantonio said. “We couldn’t have gotten a better group.”

Several officials involved with the project visited the Marion Township municipal building Wednesday morning, including U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th, to learn about the progress of construction.

In his remarks, Kelly lauded the financial support the $4.2 million project has earned, because it is being paid for by a 2020 Community Development Block Grant. Additionally, homeowners who need additional plumbing and electrical upgrades to hook up to the new public sewer system may be eligible for an owner-occupied rehabilitation grant.

“Every single penny we’re going to spend here is supplied by taxpayers,” Kelly said. “This is all part of what being an American taxpayer is: reinvesting in our communities that have been underserved for too many years where infrastructure needs to be replaced and improved.”

Project scale

Work started last spring on the project, which is intended to provide sewage service to more than 100 homes and businesses in Boyers. In January 2023, Butler County commissioners awarded the $2.2 million sewer plant construction contract to Bison Construction and a $1.2 million contract to install sewer collection lines to Mortimer’s Excavating.

Jason McBride, Marion Township supervisor chairman, and Michele Burd, township secretary, also said at Wednesday’s meeting the project is being commended by many people who will be served by the new sewage system.

A fact sheet provided at the meeting Wednesday by Mark Gordon, chief of economic development and planning for Butler County, showed 236 people would be served by the system, 60% of whom are low- to moderate-income individuals. Gordon said the project being supported by the county commissioners is a big success story for Butler County.

“This is indicative of rural Pennsylvania,” Gordon said. “We can’t lose sight of the humanity. We talk a lot about equity and inclusion and all those big things, but if you think about it, there is nothing more equity-related than we are all humans. We all need fresh water to live, and we also need to dispose of our waste.”

While the project still cost upward of $4 million to construct, its designers took into account the level of cost and disruption the community could manage.

David Neill, project manager for the Eads Group, said his company designed the system to be a manageable size and cost for an area the size and scale of Marion Township. He explained that the system runs largely off gravity, with a circulating pump in place only if necessary.

“In a high-tech industry, we try to keep it low-tech so that the amount of manpower required by the township or whoever they contract with is also low,” Neill said. “That in turn keeps operation maintenance costs low.”

Carlantonio said the Boyers community is lucky to have been able to keep the costs low for the project.

“You hear all these horror stories of other communities, they have to pay $2,000 just to get the ditches dug,” Carlantonio said.

Butler County chief of economic development and planning Mark Gordon, left, Wendy Leslie, Michele Burd, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly and Marion Township Supervisor Jason McBride speak on the construction of a new sewage treatment plant at the Marion Township Municipal Building on Wednesday, April 24. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, center, congratulates Marion Township on its new sewage treatment plant during a meeting at the Marion Township Municipal Building on Wednesday, April 24. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly speaks with Marion Township Supervisor Jason McBride, Michele Burd and Wendy Leslie after a meeting on the township's new sewage treatment plant at the Marion Township Municipal Building on Wednesday, April 24. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly shakes hands with Michele Burd after a meeting on the township's new sewage treatment plant at the Marion Township Municipal Building on Wednesday, April 24. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

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