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U.S. CONGRESSMAN BILL JOHNSON Proudly Representing Eastern and Southeastern Ohio

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Ribbon Cutting Held at New Columbiana Water Plant

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Columbiana, October 6, 2018 | comments
As city leaders began to see the need for a new plant over the years, Mayor Bryan Blakeman reached out to Congressman Bill Johnson, who helped the city get federal funding for the project by reaching out to the United States Department of Agriculture.
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Salem News 
By Katie White
Published October 6, 2018

“Water is a staple of life that we take for granted sometimes, but we know that water is an infrastructure that brings people to your area,” David Hall, state director for the USDA Ohio Rural Development, said Friday during a ribbon cutting of the city’s new water plant.

The multi-million-dollar plant along Metz Road has been operational the last few months after the demolition of the original plant, which was outdated.

As city leaders began to see the need for a new plant over the years, Mayor Bryan Blakeman reached out to Congressman Bill Johnson, who helped the city get federal funding for the project by reaching out to the United States Department of Agriculture.

The USDA financed the bulk of the project through a grant and a loan.

“This is a great day, and it’s exciting to see what can be done when federal, state and local government get together to solve a problem,” Johnson said.

Blakeman thanked Johnson for his effort, as well as the effort of many others involved in the project, including past and present council members, former city manager Keith Chamberlin who first oversaw the beginnings of the project, current city manager Lance Willard, plant staff–including former superintendent Matt Polen and current superintendent John Rapp–state and local political leaders, and the agencies involved.

The plant was designed by Arcadis and built by Beaver Constructors of Canton.

“We as a community are extremely happy to have the support of so many individuals that made this project possible. It was a long process getting to this day, and even longer still, was the expanse of time that the previous water plant was tasked with serving our community,” Blakeman said.

He added that the first plant was built and became operational between 1933 and 1934, during the time that the nation was in the depths of the Great Depression, the world witnessed the rise of fascists and dictators like Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, and a widespread drought destroyed over 35 million acres of farmland across the country.

The city’s new, second plant, is operational under a much different set of circumstances.

“We are moving. Things are happening. People and businesses are going to be coming into our region of the country,” Johnson said, referring to President Donald Trump’s half-a-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan that aims to upgrade aging infrastructure.

Johnson said that 25 percent of the plan is targeted toward rural America, which would affect the county. He added that he has already met with President Trump personally to discuss the infrastructure needs of rural America, and that the president plans to come back to Ohio.

“I would specifically like to thank Mayor Blakeman and Lance Willard for getting this done,” Johnson said.

A tour of the facility and a taste-test of the water produced by the plant were also a part of the ceremony.

“I’m sure you will all agree that this facility is quite impressive. We as a community are extremely happy to have the support of so many individuals that made this project possible,” Blakeman said.

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