As pressure testing is being done on the new forced main sewer at Ponderosa Pines, Mayor Gene Rhorer and the Ashland Board of Aldermen have their sights set further north.

The City of Ashland hosted about 20 land owners north of the airport on Wednesday night at the Southern Boone Library to discuss a plan that would run a sewer line north as far as the KOMU television facility owned by the University of Missouri.

There was little doubt that there was interest by the land owners, most of whom currently have sewer lagoons, some of which have been targeted by the Department of Natural Resources.

“If the attendance was any indication, I would say the interest is very high,” said Ashland City Administrator Lyn Woolford. “One land owner asked us what our timetable was, and when we asked him what his timetable was, he told us, ‘yesterday,’” Woolford said.

Besides elected officials, Ashland was represented at the meeting by Allstate Engineering’s Chad Sayre. The company is acting as the engineer for the new mechanical sewer plant, which is currently in the review process by DNR and slated to begin construction begin later this year. Rohrer told the landowners that the City had no interest in annexing more land, however, they were very interested in picking up new sewer customers.

“We wanted to meet with everyone and we will hold face-to-face meetings as well,” Rhorer told the audience. “We could do a lot of this by phone or email, but that’s not the way we got easements to up near the airport. We met with folks individually – that’s how we want to do business.”

Rohrer told the landowners of the success the City of Ashland had with the project which ran sewer lines to the Ponderosa Pines development owner by Larry Potterfield. “We will not want to annex anything as that doesn’t make any sense in this case,” Rhorer said. “But the state has several ways to partner in order to create a joint utility system. This is not complicated, we have to make sure that our existing customers are not financing these projects.” Rhorer emphasized that the City was working to bring in and serve new customers in order to keep sewer costs low for Ashland residents.

Rhorer said the City of Ashland was getting a lot of interest in economic development at the Ponderosa Pines area. “We are thinking five- to 10-years and 25-years into the future,” Rhorer said. “We thought this would be feasible with the owners, we wanted to kick it around with you and see if it would work.”

DNR engineer Eric Crawford told those at the meeting that DNR was working with Allstate and the City to move the new sewer project forward and that he thought the City had a good idea by looking for customers north of the airport. “The department encourages this type of regionalization,” Crawford said. “To get any grant money is tough.

There is a big demand for those grants and there are a lot of outlying smaller communities without a 5,000 population base.” Rhorer provided the landowners with a preliminary draft of two potential budgets for the overall project that would range from $2- to $2.5 million and $3.2- to $3.6 million.

The first option would provide an 8-inch and 12-inch forced sewer main and the more expensive option would be a 12-inch main. “The more users we get, the the lower the user rate will be for our own residents,” Rhorer said.

The meeting was attended by Boone County Commissioners Fred Parry, Southern District and Janet Thompson, representing the Northern District as well as Tom Ratterman of the Boone County Sewer District and Eric Crawford of DNR.

“We plan to partner with the Boone County Commission, Boone County Regional Sewer District, the Southern Boone County Economic Development Council, REDI, the Southern Boone County Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission, the airport board and others to further discuss options for this need,” Rhorer stated in a letter to the property owners.