On an appropriately wet Friday, Liberty County officials and residents turned out to the Miller Park well site for a “Turn on the Tap” ceremony, marking the completion of a project started over 10 years ago.
“I’m reminded of the old hymn, ‘Heaven Came Down,’” County Administrator Joey Brown remarked about the rainy setting. “We’re blessed, (and) heaven is truly coming down, because we’re finally getting a water system that’s going to help so many people down here that have needed safe … and clean drinking water for so long.”
Brown praised former Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver as the project’s “initiator,” along with the county’s rural district commissioners, who he called the “driving force” behind the system’s completion.
“I’m just thrilled to be here this morning to share in the celebration and help you turn the tap on,” McIver said, noting that the system will not only provide clean drinking water, but also hopefully will lower the area’s ISO rating and, subsequently, insurance rates for homeowners.
McIver recalled all the grants and petitions he and fellow commissioners filed during the process, as well as the trips to Washington, D.C he and others made to propose the water-system plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“As much as I hate going to Washington, I felt that there was a need for us, and me, to push forth the effort to let those up there … know that we had a great need here in Liberty County,” he said.
McIver recollected presenting the plan to the USDA alongside Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley. He also thanked former 1stDistrict Rep. Jack Kingston and his staff for their help in pushing the rural water system, as well as Sarah Davis, owner of Associates in Local Government Services, who drafted the $500,000 grant proposal that helped fund the system.
Barbara Walthour, a resident of Dave Williams Road in unincorporated Liberty County, expressed her gratitude toward the commissioners.
“I thank God for putting it in the heart of all of you to think about us,” she said. “Sometimes we complain, but we don’t ever tell you we appreciate everything you all do.
“It means so much (having the rural water system),” Walthour continued. “We’ve had many houses that burned down – I’ve witnessed them burn down because they couldn’t get to them quick enough.”
Following remarks from current County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette and Commissioners Marion Stevens and Gary Gilliard, the long-awaited rural water system was ceremoniously turned on.
Flanked by Stevens, Gilliard and Commissioners Connie Thrift, Eddie Walden and Justin Frasier, McIver and Lovette together turned the spigot, allowing water to gush from the PVC pipe.
“OK, now turn it off before you run the bill up,” Liberty County Chief Building Official Paul Zechman joked.
Brown said the system will mainly serve residents along Lewis Frasier, Holmestown and Dave Williams roads, in the unincorporated county areas along Highway 84. He said the county looks to bring everyone online by the end of February and will begin billing in March.
Brown said the county next looks to install a rural water system along Highway 196, on the near side of Fleming.