Bright winter sunshine shone down on a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house at the Brookings Wastewater Treatment Plant Friday.

The ceremony marked the completion of the $10.1 million Phase II wastewater treatment plant upgrade started in April 1999.

Brookings Mayor Bob Hagbom welcomed well-wishers to the ceremony.

Im going to keep my comments short, but I do want to mention the fact that since the city made the agreement with the Department of Environmental Quality regarding new sewer hookups, some 420 new connections have been made connections we wouldnt have had without the support of the citizens of Brookings in approving the wastewater treatment plant bond.

Hagbom was joined by newly-elected Curry County Commissioners Marlyn Schafer and Lucy La Bont, as well as city councilors Frances Johns, Rick Dentino and Larry Curry.

Although she couldnt be with us here today, former Mayor Nancy Brendlinger, who worked on this project heart and soul, has sent a message that she is with us in spirit, Hagbom said.

Brendlinger resigned several years ago to move to Salem.

Im also pleased to see (former city manager) Tom Weldon and his wife in attendance, he said.

Hagbom recognized the efforts of Community Development Director Leo Lightle who baby sat this project from the citys point of view.

He also recognized Chief Plants Operator Joe Ingwerson, Public Works Supervisor Dennis Barlow and Public Works Inspector John Cowan.

Hagbom also had praise for Bill Tow of Wildish Building Company.

Bill was the project manager on the first upgrade of the plant, Hagbom said. He did an excellent job then and we were happy to see him come back.

Ron Walz of Brown and Caldwell, consultants, said the ribbon-cutting ceremony marks a milestone in the history of the communitys support of environmental quality.

Since the early 1980s, the Brooking facility faced serious environmental issues such as frequent collection system overflows, permit violations and effluent discharged directly onto the beach during low tide, Walz said.

Under threat of a building moratorium, and with citizen support, a multi-phase treatment plant improvement and expansion program was adopted to address the concerns within the funding limitations available.

The 1988 Brookings wastewater treatment plant facilities plan outlined the necessary expansion and improvements to accommodate 20 years of growth.

The Stage I treatment plant upgrade began in 1989 and was completed in the summer of 1991.

This phase addressed many of the critical needs resulting in reduced collection system overflows, improved process performance meeting permit requirements and eliminating beach discharges, Walz said.

Unfortunately, he said, the success of Phase I made approval of Phase II more difficult.

After the defeat of a series of bond issues in the mid-1990s, the $13.1 million bond issue supporting the Stage II upgrade was passed in September 1997.

Construction of the treatment plant upgrade began in April 1999 and was completed in December 2000.

The newly-expanded treatment facility has a dry weather treatment capacity of 1.7 million gallons per day and a wet weather hydraulic capacity of 15.5 million gallons per day, Walz said.

With the completion of the Stage II upgrades, the treatment plant is estimated to have sufficient capacity for a population base of up to 16,400 people, which is projected to serve the Brookings and Harbor area through the year 2015, he said.

What I admire about Brookings is unlike some communities this community has completed what they said they were going to do, Walz said.

DEQ project manager Joe Edney said, Ive been working with the city of Brookings for 15 years, through good times and bad times.

I feel pretty good today.

Edney had praise for other DEQ representatives at the ceremony: Francis Dzata, Ruben Kretzschmar, Tim McFetridge and Merlyn Hough, as well as inspector Lewis Gray of Brown and Caldwell.

Also attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony were: Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Les Cohen and Chamber Ambassadors Lynn McCann, Violet and Leonard Burton, Susan Miller, LouAnn Hampton, Marilyn Deards, Don and Betty Schrier, Ken Simmons and Frances Johns.

The guests took a guided tour of the facility after the ceremony.