Jackson Co. towns band together to pay for new pump station - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Jackson Co. towns band together to pay for new pump station

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JACKSONPORT, AR (KAIT) – When the river levels rise in Jackson County, the towns there consider closing the flood gates on the levees to hopefully prevent any damage.

The community of Jacksonport, however, will soon have another way to help its residents stay dry.

Mayor Marcus Dodson says the town has gotten a grant to buy and then build a new storm water pump station near one of its flood gates. Several surrounding communities are now chipping in, too, to make sure the pump stays running for years to come.

The flood gate in question is usually the first to close when the White River starts to rise, but once it's shut, Dodson says there's nowhere for all the storm water to go but into the farm fields and homes nearby.

"When the river's up and the flood gates close and it starts raining and keeps raining, that's when you need the pump," he said. "Sometimes [the water] gets pretty close to getting over the road, too, if you don't pump it out of there."

When the water has built up in the past, Dodson says he and some of his neighbors have had to set up pumps on the levee. They have even called in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide additional support.

"It's always been a big headache to get that water out of there," he said, "because you've got to set up pumps on the levee and put the pipes across the levee."

He says building a permanent storm water pump station near Jacksonport has always been one of his main goals, but the town could never secure the grant money to do so.

"We got turned down a couple of times," Dodson said, "and then the grant finally came through."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Jacksonport a grant in 2012 worth more than $341,000 to build a new pump station. The mayor, however, says he worried the town could not have paid for the continued maintenance and upkeep once the pump was built.

Several communities as well as the county have now stepped in to help cover those costs. Jackson County, Newport, Diaz and Campbell Station plan to contribute $100 each month to a fund that will allow Jacksonport to keep its pump operations afloat.

"I just want to thank them, appreciate them because we couldn't do it ourselves," Dodson said, adding: "We couldn't afford it, not this little town. We don't get that much revenue."

The other communities have also decided to help support the new pump station because they will get some relief themselves when the waters rise.

Mayor Dodson expects the project to begin this fall, but he's still unsure of a completion date at this time.

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