Winfield recognized with grant in Earth Day event
By Megan Myers
The USDA Rural Development Office honored Winfield in a special Earth Day event at City Hall on April 25.
The event was held to recognize the city’s efforts to improve its compliance with the EPA’s Clean Water Act by upgrading its wastewater treatment plant.
The USDA recently awarded the city a $4.2 million loan to fund the project through its Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program.
The facility plan, which calls for replacing the lift station at the ballpark and modifying an existing lagoon into three cells for better treatment, received approval from the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission in January.
The project is being designed by MECO Engineering, and is expected to reach construction phase in about one year.
At the Earth Day event, Winfield Mayor Ryan Ruckel said that besides keeping the city in compliance with evolving wastewater regulations, the project will also allow the city to continue to grow and develop.
He said Winfield has seen 17 percent business growth in the last two years, and census data shows that between 2000 and 2010, the population grew by nearly 50 percent.
“This is actually so much bigger to us than just compliance,” he said. “This will double our sewer capacity and give us another 15 years of growth capacity throughout our community.”
Phyllis Minner, USDA rural development area director, attended the event and presented Ruckel with a certificate awarding the loan to the city.
“We congratulate the city,” she said. “You’re taking steps to maintain compliance with the ever-changing DNR regulations and EPA regulations.”
Minner said the rural Development Office has invested over $110 million in Lincoln County over the last five years.
“That’s a lot of money we bring in taxpayer dollars,” she said.
Ruckel said he hopes efforts like the wastewater project will help to improve the city’s image.
“Winfield is becoming a center of attention in Lincoln County, and we intend to challenge the county’s vision of what Winfield is in the next five years to put us on the map in a different way than in the past,” he said.