Total cost for the Tippecanoe and Chapman Regional Sewer District project will be around $51 million, the Kosciusko County Commissioners heard Tuesday.

Ken Jones, CEO with architecture and engineering firm Jones Petrie Rafinski Corp., said the project “is probably going to rank right up there with one of the largest,  maybe the largest, infrastructure project that has occurred here in the county.”

He said the project went forward but then was delayed a little bit in 2020 because of Covid. “But throughout that process, you helped us populate the trustees board, and coming out of 2020 they went to work head-on and didn’t waste any time.”

Jones said the design was pulled together working with the board of trustees, sometimes multiple meetings in one week to make sure they were making progress.

The bidding was done this year, with closing on funding following. Jones said they’re having a pre-construction meeting in the next few days.

Originally, the project cost was estimated between $37 million to $43 million.

“We probably bid the project in one of the worst economic conditions that we could have, however, our partnerships with the funding agencies didn’t allow us to introduce any delay, so we kept pushing forward,” he said.

When the bids were opened, the project came in at $51 million. “We had a partnership with the USDA that was all pre-arranged. They provided $11 million in grant and $20 million in very low, long-term interest loan that was somewhere (around) 1.8, 1.9% for 40 years,” Jones said.

The State Revolving Loan Fund, who he said has been a good partner here in Kosciusko County in the past, provided $2.5 million in grant funds and $17.5 million in a 0% interest loan for up to 35 years.

“So we closed the gap in every way and we were able to get pretty close to our target rate. I think you might remember somewhere between $80 to $90. Later, it kind of went up to $85, and we landed at $88. So, that’s the monthly rate for the sewer system. So we should be pretty happy with that given the conditions and you should also feel comfortable that we, with your help, were able to advance the project,” Jones said.

A similar presentation will be given to the County Council at their meeting Thursday night.

Jones said they also met with and got input from 75 to 80% of the property owners during the design phase. They also developed agreements with about 97% of those property owners for access to their property, he said.

The sewer will be built out over the next 18 to 24 months.

Jon Tyler, sewer district board president, thanked the Commissioners for their efforts to make the project happen.

“This has taken quite a lot of time. We’ve come to you in different incarnations of this project and we’re happy to report that we’re at the point now where we’re reading to close on those loans. We’ve done some pre-closing work with the SRF last Friday and then coming up Oct. 20 we’ll close with the USDA on their loans on this project. Then on Oct. 21, we’ll do the final closing with the SRF,” Tyler said.

At that point, he said they’ll be able to award the three contracts to the lowest bidders for the project. The project was broken into three phases - east Tippecanoe Lake, west Tippecanoe Lake and Chapman Lake, he said. He said they’ll be able to award the contracts and they’ll be able to start construction, with a pre-construction meeting scheduled for Oct. 25.

Substantial completion is planned for September 2024 with final completion soon thereafter. At that time, customers will begin to connect to the sewer system and the treatment will begin to go to Warsaw as the city is handling the treatment of the sewer.

County Commissioner Bob Conley said he thought the project has been as smooth as anything the county has done. Commissioner Cary Groninger talked about how big of an asset the sewer will be for a long time. Commissioner Brad Jackson spoke about the importance of getting Chapman Lake on board after Tippecanoe Lake had already started the project.

Resident Joe Tynan told the Commissioners he couldn’t thank them enough and it was a project long-time coming.

In other business, the Commissioners:

• Heard from Veteran Service Officer Darryl McDowell that Veterans Day is coming up Nov. 11.

The National Association of Counties has a project called Operation Greenlight.

Counties are going to light up their courthouses green from Nov. 7-13 to let veterans know they are still recognized and honored and “we’re still working on making things right for the things veterans do,” he said.

Municipalities, businesses and homeowners also are encouraged to participate.

More information can be found online at https://www.naco.org.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with Warsaw Community Schools regarding the county’s public safety communication towers. WCS is allowing the county to use part of their property in Claypool for a tower and in return the county is allowing WCS to have space on the tower for their transportation communications.

• Appointed Austin Rovenstine to the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council.

• Announced their next meeting will be at 9 a.m. Oct. 25.