for the News-Tribune
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LUKE, Md. — The Luke mill has signed a letter of agreement with the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) that will result in Luke Paper Company receiving funds equivalent to the estimated amount that would be needed to replace a steam line in Luke.
The line, installed in 2006 by SHA during a repaving
project on Pratt Street in Luke, has experienced operational issues since installation.
Rather than replace the steam line and risk further maintenance problems in the future, the company proposes to disburse the SHA funds to the affected residents. These payments will help cover the costs of installing new furnaces, hot water heaters, and other upgrades, allowing the residents to become more self-sufficient.
“Although there are still a couple of steam customers who have not signed agreements, in the interest of the 23 customers who have signed, we felt we must move forward,” said Pat Moore, Luke Mill manager.
“We will be working closely with SHA to expedite payment to us so that we, in turn, can disburse the funds to the residents,” said Moore. “We appreciate the cooperation of SHA, the Town of Luke, as well as the residents, in working with us on this issue.”
Gregory Welker, SHA deputy administrator and chief engineer, said, "SHA is pleased that we were able to work with the Luke Paper Company to disburse funds that will help cover the costs of installing new furnaces, hot water heaters, and other upgrades, allowing the residents to become more self-sufficient."
“The residents are happy that they will soon be able to start the process of transitioning to individual heating systems,” said Ed Clemons, mayor of Luke.
“While the news that the mill would no longer be supplying steam heat came as a surprise to all of us in late June, most of us have accepted the reality of the situation and are ready to move forward. We appreciate having the steam for as long as we had it,” concluded Clemons.