"Do you want the check or the plaque first?" asks Davis Minton, special assistant to the director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, right. Mayor Steve Hutcheson, center, answered the "check." The exchange occurred Wednesday during a ceremony at Houston City Hall. Looking on is City Administrator Larry Sutton.

The City of Houston received the state’s first federal stimulus funds for a wastewater treatment facility in the state Wednesday in a ceremony with leaders of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Davis Minton, special assistant to the director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, made the presentation at Houston City Hall.

Houston will begin construction on a new wastewater treatment plant and replace old sewer lines and lift stations. The total project is estimated at about $4 million.

Attending the ceremony were members of the Houston City Council, representatives of DNR, Hood-Rich Architects and McLiney and Co., a bond investment house, and Rep. Don Wells, R-Cabool.

Representatives of McClanahan Construction, a Rogersville firm that spans two generations and 42 years, was the low bidder at about $2.67 million. They also attended.

The council earlier also accepted a bid of $116,970 for a specialized truck that is used at sewer plants. The balance of the cost represents expenses ranging from engineering, testing and contingencies, which were added in case something unforeseen surfaces on the project. It is expected to take more than a year to construct – along with other sewer improvements across the city.

The community received $1.75 million in stimulus grant money and an equal amount in a low-interest loan. Another $500,000 comes from a rural sewer grant awarded by DNR. When completed, the plant will replace one that was constructed more than 30 years ago.

Another plus for Houston: While many communities are struggling to maintain revenues amid the recession, Houston is an exception. City Administrator Larry Sutton said sales tax revenue is up about 2 percent from the same period a year ago.

Among the community’s successes:

-A federal $1 million grant allowed the Durham Co. to purchase new machinery and expand its factory by about 9,000 square feet. It operates two plants at the Houston Industrial Park.

-The Houston Development Co. has turned an empty plant used by a jeans manufacturer into an incubator for new tenants. A regional school organization and Air Evac have expanded into the building.

-A new housing development includes four new duplexes – all of which were rented before they were completed. A new spec home is now under construction.

-A new road along a busy highway business district has been completed, and another new street is planned.

-In downtown Houston, a $1 million renovation to a county office building is under way.

-The city continues to expand a walking trail that will circle the community. Another stretch – using federal stimulus funding – is slated to begin soon near the Houston Memorial Airport.

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