U.S. Secretary of Commerce presents grant in Petersburg

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PETERSBURG, Ind. (WEHT)- A small southwestern Indiana town was visited by a member of the president’s cabinet Wednesday. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross presented a multi-million-dollar check to the city of Petersburg to help with a water project. The 4.2 million dollar grant will add to another grant worth 7.5 million.

The Petersburg mayor says this will support existing businesses, provide a possibility for new business, and create jobs for the community.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is not the only cabinet member to visit this small Pike County community. Secretary of State John Foster, who served under President Harrison from 1892 to 1893 was born here in the 19th century.

City and county officials were eager to watch the large check presentation. Especially coming from a cabinet member. The check will help cover some of the cost of the 23 million dollar water improvement project.

“We started this when I first became mayor about six years ago and we have not moved any dirt yet,” Robert Klipsch says. “I’m so excited that now we have the funding in place to hopefully by the first of next year we will see some movement.”

Clint Roos, a project engineer says the project has four phases, “starting at the beginning and one of the most critical is the well field. Basically, that well field is where we get the water from, we draw that from the aquifer and then we pump it to the water treatment plant. Our second component as I mentioned is the water treatment plant. The new plant will be located right here.”

The third phase takes improvements outside of town. “Elevated water storage and our new elevated water storage it’s going to down here south of I 69,” Ross says. “The rural water transition main and also the distribution main improvements that you see on the map.”

Petersburg is one of the thousands of Opportunity Zones located around the country.

Secretary Ross says the project here will attract additional investments to the region, “it’s a very unique way to funnel resources from very wealthy individuals and companies two needy communities around the country.”

Mayor Klipsch says in the last few years, Petersburg has been hit hard by changes in some major electricity companies.

“So it’s community we’ve got to find ways to replace the loss of jobs and the loss of assess value to our county,” Klipsch says.

He has hopes this project will create jobs and and help to retain those already in petersburg.

The expected completion of the project is the summer of 2022, as they expect to start receiving bids in the spring of next year.

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(This story was originally published October 7, 2020)

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