By Ralph Echtinaw
City administrators are looking for ways to better communicate with residents during power outages like the one that began at 6 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, and affected 14 commercial/industrial customers and 80 residential customers.
“It didn’t affect a great deal of customers but was kind of a mess in several locations,” City Manager Kurt Giles told city council last week.
“We’ve had historically good responses, good restoration times,” he said. “But it made me think about how we might be able to enhance our customer information, our own verification that all customers are restored. A lot of times (power outages) are happening after hours where we don’t have someone by the phone. The customers are calling (Gratiot County) Central Dispatch, and when that coincides with bad weather we think about the volume of calls Central Dispatch might get when they’re trying to do other public safety things. I’d like to explore enhancing that and perhaps updating the way we track and manage outages.
“A little better notification or a place where customers can get information would be helpful. With our automated meter reading system there’s functionality to know whether a meter socket is energized or not. So we would like to get some benefit of that.”
Giles hopes to “have some information to work with for the January goal-setting session.”
St. Louis has 1,981 electrical customers.
Council voted to hire Spicer Group, a Saginaw civil engineering firm, to recommend a permanent location for the farmers market and complete preliminary design of the facility. (Giles said a pavilion has been discussed.)
This will be paid for with a $30,000 grant from USDA Rural Development.
But where will the new farmers market be located? “I expect the study will identify general locations to consider as one of the first items,” Giles said via email.
Water and Sewer bonds
Council approved an ordinance to issue $950,000 in bonds to finance water main replacement on Maple Street, Prospect and Hebron. Maple Street is under construction right now. Prospect an Hebron work is in the planning stage.
This is the first of multiple bond sales over the next five years that are expected to top out at $4 million. The bonds will be paid off with sewer and water revenue. (This is why city council raised the sewer and water rates by 10 percent a year for the last three years and will likely continue the 10 percent annual increases for three or four more years.)
New drug box
Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. told city council that the police department has received and installed a new medication disposal box, thanks to the Kid Sense program and Rite Aid. “It’s huge. Very nice. Very secure.”
Stop by the police department to drop off your unwanted drugs anytime during regular office hours.
Water tower antenna
The city is still on track to lease antenna space on its Giddings Street water tower to Gratiot County Central Dispatch but couldn’t approve it last week because Giles was still “waiting to receive the draft lease agreement back from them following their legal review and any editing they propose.” Council will likely take action on this item at the Dec. 17 meeting.
All council members were present except George Kubin.