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Water facility dedicated to LaBelle

May 17, 2013

Donald A. LaBelle cut the ribbon at the Water Treatment Facility in Charlestown on Saturday named in his honor. The facility treats water used by the residents of Shannock Village and Columbia Heights. (Photo courtesy Sanford Neuschatz)

SHANNOCK - There were 25 to 30 LaBelle relatives on hand for the ribbon cutting and dedication of the Donald A. LaBelle Water Treatment Facility in Shannock Village on Saturday, May 11. The facility, complete with two wells and two 8,000 gallon storage tanks, has been on-line for six months. The ribbon cutting marked a huge triumph for the village.

Residents would routinely run out of water due to high demand and the low productivity of the old well (since abandoned). Also, the groundwater in the neighboring Columbia Heights neighborhood is threatened from volatile organic compounds from a nearby Superfund site.
Residents won’t have to worry about running out of water anytime soon. The new wells produce a combined 80 gallons per minute and there is an emergency generator on site fueled by propane gas. The bedrock wells are 160 feet deep and the pumping alternates between them.
The master of ceremonies for the event was Jeff Marlowe, who owns multiple properties in the village. He said the project was on-time and on-budget and especially wanted to recognize LaBelle, 81, who has operated the water system since moving to the village 20 years ago. As part of the ceremony, LaBelle cut a ribbon spanning the new building and unveiled the dedication sign bearing his name.
Other individuals key to the success of the project spoke, including Cherrie Perkins, who moved to Shannock more than 20 years ago.
“The water system was older than God and more mysterious. The apparatus was on Dave Goss’ land and there was no water in the morning,” Perkins said. “Then along came Donald. He became the water star, man-in-charge.”
Perkins said LaBelle has promised to live to 120. She also referred to Geoff Marchant as a miracle worker.
Marchant was instrumental in securing $1.7 million for the project through various funding sources including EPA, Community Development Block Grants, and USDA. As a result, Shannock has a brand new system with almost no debt ($16,000) and relatively low operating costs at $20,000 per year. The majority of the funding came from the USDA – $1.517 million in total, with 25 percent loan. The bulk of the loan was paid off using a $458,000 in block grants secured by the towns of Charlestown and Richmond.
Joanne Demars, the area director for Rural Development of USDA, was on hand to congratulate the residents of Shannock and warn them that future projects may be in jeopardy.
“Projects like this in the future will be slim to none. The support you receive from your congressmen is essential. Thank your congressmen,” Demars stressed.
Marchant echoed those remarks and urged citizens to call senators and congressmen to ensure the future of projects like Shannock because Shannock won’t be considered rural. Local politicians were on hand to lend their support including Tom Gentz, Charlestown Town Council president, Sen. Catherine Cool Rumsey and State Rep. Larry Valencia.
After the speeches, village residents Matt Lotti and Amy Teodecki served up their homemade IPA and Stout beers – brewed with Shannock water. They will be the official brewers for the Horse Shoe Falls Café, anticipated opening in 2014. There was also a nice buffet of h’ors d’oeuvres served up by PJ and Fran Davenport, future chefs of the Shannock Café.
The celebration in Shannock is still going strong.
Ion exchange
C & E Engineer Tom Nicholson explained, “There is one primary well with better quality than the other.” One of the wells has relatively high magnesium. Though this isn’t a health issue, according to Nicholson it can produce a blackish discoloration of dishes and clothing. He is eager for the village to acquire the leftover equipment from the Richmond Elementary School. The “ion exchange” equipment at the school is no longer needed since the school connected to the Richmond Water system. Nicholson explained there is plenty of room in the new building for the treatment system and hopes something can be worked out with the Chariho School District.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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