State Director Robert M. Steptoe, III, announced yesterday that Rural Development approved a water and waste Disposal loan of $850,000 and a grant of $450,000 for Mt. Zion Public Service District.

The money will go toward a $4 million water project for Calhoun.

Steptoe said Rural Development funds will be used to construct water line extensions, two 100,000 gallon water storage tanks, one booster station, two pressure reducing stations and other necessary equipment.

"The existing facilities will continue to be utilized in conjunction with this addition," he said.

This is a subsequent loan and grant package to the original loan of $600,000 and grant of $1,800,000 obligated in fiscal year 2002.

This project will help provide the necessary means for the Mt. Zion PSD to serve users along a 21-mile area of Sand Ridge, Russett and along WV Route 16 south of Arnoldsburg to the Upper West Fork Park.

In February, Mt. Zion Public Service District secretary Wilma Mace said 150 customers signed for water, the minimum number to secure funding.

Engineer Jim Hildreth said the 21-mile, $4 million package is about 80% grants with a 20% loan, "Something we're highly unlikely to see again," a mostly taxpayer supported project.

Signers were asked to pay a $100 tap fee and agree to get water for three years. The average water bill would be about $26 a month, said Mace.

The first efforts toward expanding Mt. Zion PSD services was 12 years ago when a feasibility study was done for Sand Ridge-Sassafras Ridge.

The current project was launched by the Mt. Zion PSD and the Calhoun Commission nine years ago.

Beyond providing drinking water, the project will raise property values, help reduce fire insurance premiums because of the closeness of fire hydrants and improve the chances for development in the 21st century.