The ground-breaking ceremony for a sewer extension project was held Friday morning. Participants included, from left, Mitch Rose of MCE, Gary Holtsed of Hexcavating, Interim Chancellor Calvin Johnson of UAPB, Aldermen Stephen Mays and Glen Brown, Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., Alderman George Stepps, wastewater commissioner Paul Bennett, Justice of the Peace Ted Harden, Joy Blankenship of Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Ken Johnson of Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility and Justice of the Peace Mandy Alford. Special to The Commercial/Mike Adam
Ken Johnson, manager of Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility, discusses the extension of the sewer lines as wastewater commissioner Paul Bennett looks on during ground-breaking ceremonies Friday morning. Special to The Commercial/Mike Adam
The heat was excessive enough that it may have left attendees feeling a little flushed, but no one was complaining at a Friday morning sewer extension project groundbreaking ceremony near Ridgway Road on U.S. 63, just south of Interstate 530.
“Today, we celebrate a milestone, not only for our city’s economic advancement, but also for strengthening our community’s quality of life, quality of place initiatives,” said Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. “Strengthening our quality of life and improving our community’s retail, entertainment and restaurant options adds to our community’s appeal and strengthens our economic viability.”
Redus illustrated his point by gesturing toward the nearby Walmart Supercenter and neighboring businesses and eateries.
“Phase I of this project will extend sewer to Ridgway Road by the fall of 2012,” Redus said. “It was made possible by contributions from Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility and bond financing through the city of Pine Bluff, totaling $436,000. We are in the process of securing additional bond financing to complete Phase II of this project.”
Wastewater Utility Manager Ken Johnson termed the project “a long-term endeavor.” He said in order to sustain commercial growth in the area, “the system must be up to par.”
Extension of sewer connections southward of the I-530, Highway 63 junction “enables continued investments” there, Redus said.
“We can look around and see the developments that have been made in this area since Walmart opened in January 2004,” he said.
The mayor said the benefits of retail businesses for the city shouldn’t be taken for granted. “Retail is exceptionally important to our community,” he said. “This economic sector provides life’s everyday necessities to Pine Bluff and its surrounding communities.
“Its contributions to our economy can be measured by the number of jobs that support the retail sector and the sales tax generated by the industry,” Redus continued. “Sales revenue is important for maintaining public safety and other essential public services at the municipal, county and state levels.”
Redus, who said the event marked “another one of our Pine Bluff 2020 goals that we are advancing,” expressed appreciation to Johnson for his leadership in the extension venture.