SILVER SPRINGS - Work on the first sewer system in Silver Springs symbolically got under way Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony at Eureka Street and Lahontan Avenue.
"I didn't think I'd live to see it, but thank God they got it done," said Jim Snellings, a Silver Springs Advisory Board member who has worked a dozen years to start a sewer system.
Snellings was referring to the efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Develop, Lyon County and other state, local and federal agencies to make a $10.4 million project a reality in a town of 6,500 people.
Sewer construction itself won't start until about Jan. 25 and all homes in central Silver Springs won't he hooked up until mid-2002.
The groundbreaking attracted State Sen. Mark Amodei, Assembly Speaker Joe Dini, Lyon County commissioners LeRoy Goodman, Phyllis Hunewill and Chet Hillyard and officials from the various agency involved in planning, designing, financing and ultimately building the 23-mile sewer system that will initially serve about 1,000 properties.
Sarah Mersereau, state director of USDA-Rural Development, played a key role in bringing Silver Springs and Lyon County together to make the sewer system possible. Mersereau's department supplied $5.3 million in loans and a $1.2 million grant to allow construction to start.
"This is truly being responsive to the local desires," Mersereau said. "This is not at all 'us' telling them this is what you need to do. We have really seen a change in Silver Springs from having a crossroads in the desert to having a community."
Leaders in Silver Springs first talked about a sewer in 1990 as a tool to attract business.
Abby Johnson, Nevada consultant for the Rural Community Assistance Corp., brought county and Silver Springs leaders to agreement. She and Mersereau see the sewer as the first step in Silver Springs becoming a self-sustaining community.
"The people will be able to make a living wage in their community and not have to drive an hour to work," Johnson said.
Asked about Silver Springs' future, Mersereau said, "Silver Springs will have jobs, stick-built homes, a high school."