By Stefanie Jackson
Exmore’s economic infrastructure continues to grow and town officials are working steadily to get water and sewer service up to par and find employees to keep the town running.
By fall, Exmore will have new wells and a greensand filtration system, improving the overall taste, odor, and col-or of town water.
The project was put out for bid on Nov. 18. Bids will be accepted until Dec. 18 at 2 p.m.
Exmore is expected to break ground on the well project in late January and the new system should be ready to go in October, around the same time the town will make the first loan payment to the Virginia Resources Authority.
The total cost of the project that the town began planning five years ago is approximately $1.8 million be-fore adjusting for inflation. More than $800,000 is covered by the loan the town will repay. Exmore received more than $500,000 in state fund-ing for principal forgiveness and another $500,000 from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
“It’s better than paying full price,” Town Manager Robert Duer said. “We got $1 million free.”
“I guess it’s better to get hit with a whiffle ball bat than with a steel one,” Mayor Douglas Greer remarked.
Exmore’s sewer system is operating at a loss on nearly a monthly basis and Duer advised the town council that sewer rates must increase next year, especially if the town gets a new sew-er system. The sewer rate is currently $39.50 per month and will need to in-crease to at least $60, Duer said.
Duer will attend a U.S. Department of Agriculture meeting on Dec. 20 regarding the sewer system. The possibility of USDA funding is one of three options being considered for the town’s sewage needs.
Exmore will need two new employees in its public works department. The town advertised for someone to fill the director of public works position held by Mike Johnson, who died last month. An additional person will be needed to monitor the new well system. That position has been offered to a current town employee who will need to be replaced.
Exmore’s two newest police officers, Jonathan Gonzalez and Brian Parks, graduated from the police academy on Nov. 20 and each must complete 100 hours of field training before officially starting work. The town’s police force will increase from four to six officers.
“Six is better than four. … Do you think seven is better than six?” citizen Brenda Sample Bailey asked. She sug-gested now is the time to begin planning to hire another police officer so training can be completed in time for the busy summer months.
“Exmore’s getting ready to blossom,” she said.
“I got a plan for that,” Duer answered. Another Exmore police officer, Jason Campbell, celebrates eight years with the department this month.
A fast-food restaurant and two gas stations in town are preparing to remodel to draw more business. “We’re on the rise,” Duer said.
In other business, Duer suggested transforming the area outside the Exmore town hall, on the corner of Main Street, into a memorial park to hon-or longtime town employees who have died.
There is already a memorial stone and tree there in honor of former police chief Steve Elliott. Duer would like to add two benches bearing the names of Mike Johnson and 17-year public works employee Johnny Alaniz who died in 2014.
The town council consented to Du-er’s suggestion and Bailey requested that the possibility remain open for other names besides those mentioned to be memorialized. Duer agreed.
Exmore’s annual Christmas parade will be Saturday, Dec. 8, 6 p.m.
The townwide, outdoor Christmas lighting contest will be Friday, Dec. 14, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
By Stefanie Jackson