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      Good news for LaBelle water customers

      The USDA presented LaBelle Mayor Larry Hackemack with a certificate for the loan and grant of $2,275,000

      Wednesday was a good day for the city of LaBelle, Missouri.

      The city's water system has been failing for several years and in need of a major overhaul. But in these tough financial times finding the funding for such a project is no easy task.

      Thanks to a helping hand from the USDA , the community is starting to breathe a well earned sigh of relief.

      Bad pipes, old fire hydrants and a water tower that is past its prime ... these are problems that over the next few years will no longer plague the city of LaBelle, Missouri.

      The USDA presented LaBelle Mayor Larry Hackemack with a certificate for the loan and grant of $2,275,000 to make these much needed repairs.

      Mayor Hackemack says that this will take a big burden off of the city.

      "It cost quite a bit to find these leaks," Larry Hackemack said. "We don't have real good maps to show us where they are at. They might show us they are on the north side of the street and it be on the south side of the street."

      During the announcement, Mayor Hackemack expressed the city's thanks to Cheryl Elliot with the USDA.

      She was instrumental in helping secure the funding for project.

      "We just try to see how we can assist them in the loans and the grants and how far we can stretch our money to help as many communities as possible." Cheryl Elliot said.

      One group that is also excited about the news is the LaBelle Fire Department.

      William Steffen is on the board of the Western Lewis County Fire Protection District .

      Donald Zahn is a Lieutenant with the LabBelle Fire Department and a former alderman for the city.

      Steffen says that confidence in the city's water system is a must.

      "We need to be able to hook onto a hydrant and know that we've got enough water to fight that fire effectively and keep our people safe while doing that." Steffen said.

      For Donald Zahn who helped get the ball rolling on this project 6 years ago, the news held special significance.

      "I really am proud of those people and grateful to state and federal government for this grant because without them we wouldn't be where we are at today," Zahn said.

      The money from the USDA will be split between a $1,282,00 loan and a $993,00 grant.

      The city of LaBelle also will give $125,000 for the project.

      Work should begin sometime next year.