The Wilkesboro Town Council on Monday unanimously approved hiring a Virginia firm to do preconstruction services on the planned expansion of the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

The council agreed to award a contract to Roanoke, Va.-based Ulliman Schutte to perform the 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.

The three-phase design work is scheduled to begin in February 2022 and conclude in October 2022. The project is expected to go out for bids in November 2022.

The town’s wastewater plant is currently operating at or near capacity and the upgrades would double the plant’s capacity. Wilkesboro officials expect to spend over $15 million on upgrading the plant to meet increased demand from the Tyson Foods Inc. chicken processing complex.

After hearing a preliminary engineering report in April by Dave Saunders of Omaha, Neb.-based HDR Inc., the council unanimously supported his recommendation of the proprietary AquaNereda Aerobic Granular Sludge (AGS) filtration process.

Saunders said the installation of the AGS infrastructure would probably cost $47.9 million, funded by the town’s recent and future utility rate hikes. He recommended AGS over two other methods because it offered the lowest operational and maintenance costs and better resiliency.

The council also 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 compared to other models.

Call added that he supported AGS because it was the “most efficient and most easily expandable” filtration process.

Other matters

Also on Monday, the council:

• approved the purchase of $294,053.97 in materials for the Taco Bell stormwater remediation project, with expected delivery at the end of first quarter 2022;

• called for a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 for the rezoning of six parcels on N.C. 268 West from M2 (limited industrial) to R20 (suburban residential) in order to correct a prior mapping error and protect the residential use of the properties;

• appointed Kayla Mounce McCoy of Ronda to the town’s landscape committee;

• presented a plaque to TDA Director Thomas Salley for recently being named one of the state’s economic trailblazers by “Business North Carolina” magazine;

• presented a $7,800 check to Samaritan Kitchen of Wilkes, proceeds from a recent pickleball tournament at Cub Creek Park, where a free clinic is scheduled for Nov. 13 starting at 9 a.m.; and

• proclaimed Monday as “Warren G. Harding Brown Day” in recognition of the Wilkesboro resident soon turning 100 on Nov. 11.

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