NORWAY – The town’s federal stimulus grant applications for more than $500,000 to pay for more solar panels at the wastewater treatment plant’s sewer lagoons and sewer pipe work near Fair Street have been turned down, Town Manager David Holt said.

The good news, Holt said, is the Police Department has been deemed eligible to apply for $20,000 in stimulus money.

“When you compete with 90 communities, a lot of these programs are probably good,” said Holt of the competition the town faced in applying for the stimulus funds from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The town had hoped to pay for five more solar panels – at a cost of about $112,000 – from the stimulus funding grant program to cut electrical use at the wastewater plant from about $25,000 a year to nothing.

In October 2007, the Wastewater Department won a $50,000 renewable energy state grant for implementing the first-in-the-state, solar-powered reservoir circulator at its treatment plant. Since installing the solar panels, the town says the plant’s electricity use has been cut in half.

A second project request for $472,000 to reconfigure some nearly 100-year-old sewer lines in the Fair Street area was also rejected, Holt said. The project would have eliminated three sections of sewer lines that run across private property by extending the system from Green and Winter streets out to Fair Street.

While that news was not good, the Police Department was told it is eligible to receive stimulus funding in the amount of a one-time $20,600 check from the Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program.

The so-called JAG grants are released based on a formula involving crime statistics and population. Police Chief Rob Federico said he believes Rumford and Mexico police departments and the county sheriff’s office also received eligibility for grant money.

Federico said he must now apply for the money and is expected to use it for a drug education program at the Rowe Elementary School and to assist the department in drug investigations.

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