HEYWORTH – The Illinois Rural Water Association has selected the Village of Heyworth’s wastewater treatment plant as the best in the state for 2010.

The cities of Atlanta and Hamilton (Hancock County) rounded out the field of finalists.

Treatment plants in towns with a population under 10,000 were eligible for the award. Frank Dunmire, executive director of the Rural Water Association, said record keeping, compliance and consistency of operations were all taken into account.

In Heyworth, Dunmire said he was impressed by the quality of the water after it is treated, along with “how neat and clean everything was, given the problem that all small towns have with limited finances and manpower. It was a very well-run operation.”

Tony Foster, Heyworth’s superintendent of public works since 2003, credited the eight employees who work for the water, wastewater and street departments.

“When the association called me, they asked who was coming to accept the award. I asked if another worker could accept with me,” said Foster, who brought plant operator Jimmy Ellis. “I wanted to show the guys I appreciate the work they do.”

About 1,000 cities and villages were eligible for the award. Heyworth was one of three finalists, along with the cities of Hamilton and Atlanta. Judges then spent about a week reviewing records and operations in those towns before giving the award to Heyworth.

The Illinois Rural Water Association said association staff provides technical assistance to small wastewater systems, and Dunmire said those visits help decide who will be considered for the annual award.

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