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However, Clarendon County’s ongoing construction project may not be so lucky. The Clarendon County Phase II Water Systems Improvement Project, also funded by USDA grant, is in its beginning stages. This project is a water main extension south of Davis Station and west of Wyboo Subdivision. “It’s a large project that should currently take about a year,” said Epperson, who states they will be laying about 26 miles of main water line. The contract was awarded at the end of 2018, and construction began January 1. The County is not near enough to completion to simply pay the crews until such time as a lengthy shutdown might end. According to Clarendon County Administrator David Epperson, the County has a similar process for payments to their contractor. However, he’s concerned at the impact lack of payment might have on the project. “If contractors don’t get paid, they may scale down to minimal staffing and move the majority of their crews to other jobs,” said Epperson. “Or they might leave altogether, and the project would stop.” Epperson understands it’s natural that contractors move to jobs where they can pay their crews. However, he is concerned about additional costs to set up and restart the projects once they return. The County would enter into discussions with the USDA, hoping the USDA would approve the additional costs, as the cessation of work was not the County’s fault. However, there is no guarantee the USDA would pay the extra money. “We’re thankful the Federal government did open back up for three weeks. We are encouraging our contractors to get their invoices in as soon as they can, so we can try to get them paid before February 15,” said Epperson. “But we have to think about what plan B will be if they do shut down again. It’s kind of a wait and see approach.” Should the shutdown resume in mid-February, both the City and the County will be back in the same boat, which could ultimately cost taxpayer residents. In spite of the backlog from weeks of shutdown, both Tanner and Epperson are hopeful they can get invoices paid in time. “We’re looking at delays and ultimately higher costs if it does shut down again,” said Epperson. “Thank goodness we can try to get some invoices paid and keep our contractors happy for now.”