Clay City received nearly $3.5 million in loans and grants Wednesday from USDA Rural Development to help fund its new water and wastewater disposal system.
After accepting the check from Rural Development, Clay City Town Board President Roy Chenoweth said, "We're hopefully on our way now to making this town a better place to live."
Planning for this new sewage system was begun by the previous Town Board representatives before Chenoweth was involved, he said.
"This is quite a big project for a small town," Chenoweth said.
A new plant will be constructed and improvements will be made to the stop overflow, he said. The new funding will help with the sewer ban Clay City has been on since 2001 because they have too much sewage for their system.
During the meeting 'Barney Fife,' played by Norman Klass of Clay City, arrived with a feline he had arrested. 'Fife' welcomed everyone to Clay City, or "Mayberry of the Midwest" as it's called.
After the introduction, several members of Rural Development and the Clay County community introduced themselves and voiced their appreciations for the new funding.
Project Engineer with Midwestern Engineers John Wetzel has been working with Clay City and Rural Development.
"This is the majority of the funding," Wetzel said of the $3,467,000 grant.
The town will have to raise a few additional dollars, but Clay City is hoping to receive the money through additional grants.
Wetzel said they won't know exactly how much in grants they'll have until end of the October or the beginning of November, but construction will begin soon.
"If all goes well construction would probably start early spring next year," he said.
USDA Rural Development Indiana State Director Robert White said, "It's unbelievable for a small town" to receive this type of funding, White said.
Clay City's sewage problems mirror problems many small communities suffer from in Indiana.
Typically when Indiana Dept. of Envrionmental Management sets new standards, towns have to take out loans and make sewage taxes higher, but that never solves the problem. Rural Development balances the funding and how much has to be repaid so town's can upgrade without financial woes, he said.
Of the $3,467,000 from Rural Development, $500,000 is a grant and $2,967,000 is a loan to be repaid at 4.2 percent interest over 40 years, White said.
"(Rural Development) has been helping rural communities like this for over 50 years," White said.