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$5.6 million dollars of stimulus funds come into Otsego County

By By PAT BAILEY

RICHFIELD SPRINGS, N.Y. (WKTV) - The small village of Richfield Springs received a huge check on Friday from the American Recovery and Investment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus bill.

The $5.4 million will be used to upgrade the village's waste water system.

State officials said the check of stimulus funds is one of the biggest ever handed out. The money will be used to fix one of the oldest sewer systems in Otsego County.

"There is no way we could finance $5.4 million and come up with the money from the residents to pay for this," said Village of Richfield Springs Treasurer Donna Wells.

Upgrading the waste water treatment facility includes turning the raw sewage water as it comes into the plant into clean water that flows back into a small creek for people to drink.

Acting President of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, Matthew Millea said this project was chosen because the plan was shovel-ready.

"A lot of the criticism of the bill was they would have done these projects anyway, and I think in this case we can say this particular project is better because of the stimulus money," Millea said. "It's bigger. It's going to be more sustainable."

New York State Senator, James Seward (R) of the 51st District was on hand for the presentation. Seward has always said he is not a big proponent of the stimulus plan. However, he said when he sees money being spent on projects like this one in Richfield Springs, he has a different attitude.

"Helping a local economy, helping local tax payers, helping our environment, I would say this is a very good use of the stimulus funds," said Seward.

Construction on the project is scheduled to start in January of 2010, and is expected to last 18 months into July of 2011.

The Village of Cooperstown also received stimulus funding - $245,000.

Cooperstown Mayor Carol Waller said the village will use their money to upgrade their waste water treatment facility as well.

Waller says only a few thousand people live in Cooperstown, but when you add tourists, she said, the system gets put to the test.

"We have about 800,000 to a million visitors a year," Waller said. "That's a lot of infrastructure problems. So, this is a great, great grant."

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