The Wilkesboro Town Council unanimously approved a $2.83 million contract Monday for upgrades planned this year for the town’s wastewater treatment plant off Old U.S. 421.

The contract for engineering and permitting services was signed with Omaha, Neb.-based HDR Inc. According to HDR engineer Wes Bramlett, the three-phase design work is scheduled to begin in February, and the upgrades should be completed in 18 months after breaking ground on construction.

The total engineering cost of the project is expected to be $4 million. The town’s wastewater plant is currently operating at or near capacity and the upgrades would double the plant’s capacity to meet increased demand from the Tyson Foods Inc. chicken processing complex.

In November, the town hired Roanoke, Va.-based Ulliman Schutte to perform preconstruction services for $525,000. This could be reimbursed later if the town is approved for project financing through the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program.

HDR has also delivered pre-planning and process consultation services and a preliminary engineering report for a reported cost of $575,000.

HDR engineers recommended using the proprietary AquaNereda Aerobic Granular Sludge (AGS) filtration process. HDR’s Dave Saunders earlier said the installation of the AGS infrastructure would probably cost $47.9 million, funded by the town’s recent and future utility rate hikes.

The AGS infrastructure would be the first of its kind installed on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, according to Saunders.

The council earlier approved the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) delivery model for the project. Public Works Director Sam Call said in April that CMAR “gives us more control” of the build process and was the “most efficient and most easily expandable” filtration process.

Other matters

Also on Monday, the council:

• swore in Tommy Rhodes as policy chief, removing his status as interim chief;

• recognized Town Clerk Jim Byrd for his achievements and presented a framed plaque of an article written on him by the N.C. Clerks Association; and

• approved the five-year renewal of an existing interlocal agreement with the Town of North Wilkesboro and Wilkes County regarding the use of Cub Creek ballfields for recreation leagues operated by the county.

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