By Ralph Echtinaw
City administrators hope to open the W.T. Morris swimming pool to the public on Saturday, July 10.
“It’s still iffy, but we’re getting there,” said Finance Director Bobbie Marr.
“Upon successful completion of (Thursday’s) training session, we will have three certified lifeguards,” said City Manager Kurt Giles via email. “We also have the manager and one other pool staff member who have not received lifeguard training.”
All five pool staffers received CPR/First-aid and AED training Wednesday.
“Since some of the pool staff members are also involved in other activities, there may be some limitations on the hours that we’re able to be open,” Giles said. “If any of your readers know of someone who is interested in working at the pool, we’re still taking applications. The health department inspection was successfully completed Wednesday, so as long as the lifeguard training is satisfactorily completed, we’ll plan to be open starting Saturday afternoon.”
Almost all the lifeguards are local athletes, Marr said, including one volleyball player and one swimmer.
Why is Finance Director Marr running the pool staffing effort? “Bobbie stepped in to recruit pool employees since we had practically no one to staff the pool this season,” Giles said. “She frequently takes on tasks that just need to be done.”
As to how far into August the pool will be open…
“We’re uncertain about the length of the season,” Giles said. “It will depend on the availability of staff and the interest level of our pool patrons as the season continues.”
Council won’t raise electric rates
Giles took one more stab at getting city council to approve an electric rate adjustment that would increase residential rates by 2 percent while giving a small decrease to commercial customers. Councilmen listened to Giles rationale but still wouldn’t approve the rate adjustment.
“This is one time we can hold the line a little bit,” Councilman Roger Collison said at the meeting.
Giles pointed out that St. Louis residential rates are 20 percent lower than Consumers Energy residential rates, and the proposed increase would amount to 78 cents/month for a homeowner using 600 kWh/month.
This was supposed to be the last step in a three-year rate adjustment that would make what residential and commercial customers pay be equal to the cost of maintaining service for them. “The result of that approach was increasing costs slightly for low-usage customers and reducing costs slightly for customers using higher volumes,” Giles said.
The administration will hold off on additional electric rate adjustments “until such time as we have recommendations from the new rate study or if there is a significant change in operational costs,” Giles said.
The new rate study is expected to be completed next year.
Council was first asked to approve the small increase in electric rates in June and declined to do so. They had just raised water and sewer rates by 10.65 percent and solid waste fees by 5 percent. Mayor James Kelly opined Tuesday that probably had something to do with council’s decision on electric rates.
“We were increasing everything at the same time,” he said. “And that bothered me.”
Gold Wing parade set
The Michigan chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association has chosen St. Louis as one of the small towns it will stage a parade in this summer.
GWRRA rider Neal Feikema, 74, of Evart contacted Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. with a request to host the parade on Aug. 19 or 20.
The group makes a habit of staging bike parades, preferably at dusk, in small towns around Michigan. In St. Louis they will follow the same route as the high school graduate parade.
The event will start in the middle school parking lot and go west on River Court, north on North Main, west on Prospect, south on North Mill, left on Saginaw and finish in high school parking lot.
Feikema told Ramereiz that these events draw anywhere from 30 to 170 Gold Wing riders.
“Feikema likes to contact local eateries to see if any group deals can be obtained for the event participants and attendees,” Ramereiz said. “Feikema told me he has been in contact with the River Rock, and I gave Feikema contact information for the Blue Shamrock.”
Ramereiz said he will invite the fire department, county sheriff’s department and state police to send representatives to the parade.
Old US 27 Motor Tour
The Old US 27 Motor Tour has a spot of bother this year, as event organizer Craig Parish is having health issues, Ramereiz said.
The event is scheduled for Aug. 26, but no one has contacted Gratiot County law enforcement to request road closures and traffic control.
Watch the Old 27 Motor Tour’s Facebook page for updates.
New police officers
Ramereiz is in the process of hiring two full time officers. A conditional offer has been accepted by one applicant and an announcement should be forthcoming soon. The application period for the second position closes July 31.
Parks and recreation vacancies
The city is looking for two residents to serve on the Parks and Recreation Commission. The vacancies were created when Sally Church and Melissa Allen resigned. If you’d like to apply, contact anyone at city hall.