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State grants to boost Unity businesses, improve Derry sewage facilities

Jeff Himler
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A sign advertising job openings at JMS Fabricated Systems stands next to the office of Product Evaluation Systems along Donohoe Road in Unity. A state grant awarded on Sept. 18, 2018, is expected to help the township municipal authority extend sewage service to the two businesses.

Two Unity businesses will get a boost and Derry area homes will have improved sanitary facilities thanks to some of the 236 small water and sewer project grants approved Tuesday by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

After several years on the drawing board, Unity Township Municipal Authority’s plan to extend public sewage service to two businesses on Donohoe Road appears ready to move forward thanks to a $424,996 grant from the state authority.

The grant is expected to fund the bulk of a 4,000-foot sewer line extension that would serve Product Evaluation Systems and JMS Fabricated Systems, which are located side by side along Donohoe. The project might also provide service for some households along adjoining Buffenmeyer Road, according to Unity authority operations manager Doug Pike.

The project is estimated to cost about $500,000, with the township and each of the two businesses expected to chip in about $25,000, he said.

The grant approval is welcome news for Product Evaluation Systems President Walt Moorhead, who said lack of public sewage has held the company back from adding 12,000 square feet of new laboratory testing space to its existing 18,000-square-foot building.

“To expand the business, and for future growth, we need that extra room,” Moorhead said. “It will help us expand our existing testing and offer additional test capabilities we’re not doing right now.”

He anticipates adding 10 more people over the next few years to a staff that has grown to about 35. The company’s services include mechanical and metallurgical testing and chemical analysis.

A message left seeking comment from JMS officials wasn’t immediately returned. According to the company’s website, it manufactures custom-fabricated equipment and applies wear-resistant materials in its 50,000-square-foot plant. A roadside sign indicates it’s looking to hire welders and laborers.

Michael O’Barto, a member of the Unity authority and a former township supervisor, said he was “thrilled” by the news of the grant award.

“When you can help companies expand their business, it’s a good thing for the whole area,” he said. “It’s going to employ more people, and it’s definitely going to be a tax boost for Unity Township.”

Pike couldn’t say when construction might begin on the sewer extension. Many steps must be completed first, including engineering and obtaining right-of-way agreements, he said.

In neighboring Derry Township, the township municipal authority will receive $245,000 to install about 3,000 feet of sanitary sewer line, bringing service to 10 homes on Peach Hollow Road.

The Derry Township authority will use an additional $72,101 grant to reline 2,000 feet of sewer pipe along Industrial Boulevard, Pandora Road and Station Street.

Manager Carol Henderson said, when the authority plans sewage line extensions, it takes into account reports from the township supervisors on areas where on-lot septic systems are failing.

The pipes that are being lined with an epoxy material showed deterioration during a camera inspection, she said.

Tuesday’s grants will “help provide critical water and sanitary sewer improvements for areas that have struggled with outdated or malfunctioning systems for years,” said state Rep. Joseph Petrarca.

Other local grant awards include:

  • Municipal Authority of the Borough of Derry, $278,034, to upgrade a deteriorating water line on North Chestnut Street that has lead joints
  • Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, $340,864, Peters Road water main extension
  • Rostraver Township Sewage Authority, $300,000, Collingate sewer system rehabilitation
  • Lower Burrell Municipal Authority, $210,000, Little Pucketa sewer rehabilitation
  • Municipal Authority of the City of New Kensington, $100,000, water line replacements
  • Municipal Sanitary Authority of the City of New Kensington, $100,000, sewer rehabilitation

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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