City administration hopes to replace and relocate inoperative emergency siren

By Ralph Echtinaw

The city’s emergency siren has been inoperative for an unknown amount of time, and the administration hopes to replace it soon.

How long has it been silent? “I am uncertain of the time frame,” said City Manager Kurt Giles via email. “Earlier this year, the radio communications contractor was on site when an attempt was made to test the siren. And the conclusion was that the radio signal was making the connection, but the electronic siren did not sound. While we were out yesterday, we attempted to test it, and it did not sound.”

Giles told council members Tuesday that he already met with siren contractor West Shore Services of Allendale. “They are providing an estimate to us,” he said. “We expect that to be in the $25,000 plus range.”

The siren is on top of the second pole from the right.

Mayor Tom Reed asked Giles “what’s the downside?”

“I don’t think there is (one),” Giles said. “A lot of people say they’re connected electronically by phone, but I don’t know that everybody is and all the time. So I’d rather have that siren sound than depend on other methods.”

Giles also proposes to relocate the siren, which currently rests atop a utility pole in the back yard of the three-story apartment building on North Mill Street.

The pole would be moved to the Electric Department complex across the street and a new siren installed. That would get the siren off private property and onto public property.

Parking spaces re-striped

Council approved spending $5,800 with Lazerlines Parking Lot Maintenance of Ortonville to re-stripe city streets and parking lots. The contractor will also re-stripe parking lots at Pine River Township Hall and the St. Louis Area Fire Department. Those entities will reimburse the city for the expense.

“The township will happily reimburse us for adding that to the scope of this project,” Giles said. “They made attempts to get people to look at their pavement striping project, and no luck so far.”

Early literacy workstations

Council retroactively approved the purchase of early literacy workstations for the public library from AWE Learning for $7,148. 

The administration is supposed to get council approval before making expenditures in excess of $5,000, but that didn’t happen this time.

Why not? There was a discount that expired late last week.

Library Director Jessica Little wrote to Giles on Tuesday, April 25, to say the sale ended Friday, April 28. Giles wrote back five hours later and told her to proceed with the purchase. He estimated that this saved the city $800.

“Ideally, this would have received council approval beforehand,” Giles said. “We believe these were extenuating circumstances to have the opportunity save approximately $800 and asked the council to ratify the request.”

As Giles told city council Tuesday, the library director  “knew about it just about as quickly as the sale came up on April 24, and it was only four or five days last week. So at this point we are hopeful and would appreciate your ratifying the purchase.”

The Friends of the Library group contributed $3,000 for purchase of the early literacy workstations.

Generator problem addressed

Council approved spending $9,975 with Theka Engineering Solutions of Muskegon to replace the analog AVR on Generator No. 7 with a new digital AVR. 

It’s hoped that will solve the problem that kept the city from contributing as much as it could to an emergency power generation event on Dec. 23 last year.

On that date the Michigan Public Power Agency notified member cities (including St. Louis) that the Mid-continent Independent System Operator issued an “emergency operations deployment of available generating units in Michigan” at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23.

The city’s electric department personnel couldn’t get diesel generators one and seven to work together.

“We’ve got to fix whatever the problem is with number seven,” Giles said at a Jan. 3 city council meeting.

Tuesday he had this to say: “We’d like very much to get that stuff replaced and tested out so if we’re called again we won’t be short for generation.”

(The city’s electric plant has four diesel-powered generators in addition to two hydroelectric generators. But the city buys most of its electricity on the open market.)

Mill Street closure

City council approved the closure of the 200 block of North Mill Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 15, for a motorcycle show organized by St. Louis Moose Lodge. The show is in association with the city’s annual Independence Day celebration.

A light moment

During council comments time, Bill Leonard got a laugh with this line: “Anyone in the audience who didn’t sign in, please do so because that makes us look good.”

Full disclosure

This reporter is a candidate for St. Louis mayor and will be on your Nov. 7 ballot. No other name will be on the ballot for mayor, as not one of the 3,800 other St. Louis residents turned in petitions for the job.

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