By Ralph Echtinaw
If you drive down Michigan Avenue and see a flashing red light on the little building at Cheesman Road you can be sure that the most troublesome sewage pumping station in the city is malfunctioning again.
“That one goes down pretty regularly,” Public Services Director Keith Risdon said. “This has been an ongoing problem for many years. Basically we’re on borrowed time. Every time you drive by there you see that little red light that means that someone’s getting called to come out and fix it. It’s an ongoing problem. It’s way past its life.”
City council began the process of replacing the pump station last week.
Councilmen approved spending $66,750 on design, bid assistance and construction administration with Spicer Group for the job. “That pump station’s been a problem for as long as I can remember,” Councilman George Kubin said.
“The pumps are not operating properly,” said Spicer Project Manager Jean Inman in a letter to Risdon. “There is excessive plugging. The wet well is not accessible for proper cleaning and maintenance. There are level control issues where flows back up into the system regularly. The flow meter doesn’t work properly. And the building is in poor condition.”
The total cost of replacing the pump station is not yet known. “Once we have determined the type of pump station (pump building or pre-fab station) the engineer will be able to give the city an ‘Opinion of Cost’ for the project construction,” Risdon said.
In other sanitary sewer news, councilmen approved payment of $47,723 to Jett Pump of Waterford for a pump to be installed in the Union Street Pump Station adjacent to the high school athletic fields.
The pump station contains three pumps that keep the sewage flowing to the wastewater treatment plant east of the intersection of Prospect and Union streets. And the two pumps that are working have handled the load so far.
Risdon said it will take six weeks to six months to get the pump and a week to install it.
T.H. Eifert Mechanical Contractors of Lansing was the only other bidder on that job and came in at $59,620.
Councilmen also approved spending up to $25,000 with Spicer Group to redesign and modify the Wastewater Treatment Plant’s fine screening unit and replace the lab flume hood.
The treatment plant was built in 1954. A headworks building was added in 1998 that added fine screening and grit removal to the plant. “The screening unit is at the end of its useful life and is no longer removing solids as efficiently,” Inman said in a letter to Risdon. “The screening unit had some brush replacement and minor repair a few years ago to keep it operational, but a better long term solution is needed which requires screen replacement.”
The current four-foot long flume hood isn’t big enough to hold the lab equipment. A six-foot hood is needed.
Council approved the creation of a new job with the city’s Finance and Accounting Department and gave administrators permission to advertise the job.
The idea is to provide Finance Director Bobbie Marr with enough help that she doesn’t have to work so many nights and weekends. “We’re getting everything done but maybe just in time and after hours,” Giles said. “Sometimes way after hours.”
Marr’s workload increased recently when she took on the accounting and finance work of the Gratiot Area Water Authority. The city gets $12,000 a year in exchange for that.
“(Marr) comes through and has always done so in good standing,” Giles said. “But I think she’s let us know that we can’t stretch any farther and really should consider this if we can hire somebody for the dollars we’re talking about.”
The maximum salary for the new position is $47,000. All but $14,400 would come from the water/sewer and electric funds.
Even that salary might be a little on the low side, Marr said. “We’ll be not quite competitive with some of the locals. But I think it’s possible.”
Giles said the job could be filled as soon as July.
Councilman George Kubin said this to Marr: “I feel like it’s our job to question you heavily on all these things. But I do ultimately trust your judgment. The part that bugs me is that every time you do that we’re not paving another road. But that’s the way it goes I guess. I know that budget money has to come from somewhere. But I do totally believe you need these people.”
Councilman Bill Leonard added: “I think we need to be proactive so that entire office runs smoothly.”
Planning commission resignation
Planning Commissioner Amanda Kelly resigned “due to scheduling conflicts” said Giles in a memo. To apply for the position, contact Mari Anne Ryder at email@example.com. Planning commissioners meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. But many months there is nothing for them to decide, and they don’t meet.
Council approved setting the annual Independence Day fireworks show on the first Saturday in July every year. That falls on July 4 this year, which caused a bit of consternation over having it on the same day as Breckenridge.
“I’d hate to see Breckenridge and us having fireworks on the same night,” Kubin said.
Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. said folks will park by the campgrounds east of St. Louis so they can see both fireworks shows.
Wolverine Fireworks Display, Inc. will put on the show once again. The cost of $7,300 is paid by the Middle of the Mitten branch of the Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce.
Councilmen set a March 3 public hearing for an upcoming expansion at Plasti-Paint in the city’s Woodside Industrial Centre. Giles said two jobs will be created with the expansion.
City Councilman Tom Reed was absent.