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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Freistatt board studies DNR recommendations

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A critique of Freistatt's water system and several recommendations for improvements were cited by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in a letter discussed at the August meeting of the Freistatt Village Board.

A routine inspection of the village's water system produced a five-page report from environmental specialist Edward Bethel. Among the items in the report were the following:

* "All water fees should have a mandatory annual cost-of-living adjustment each year." Freistatt has not changed its rates since the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program approved the current rate schedule for paying back its loan for expanding the water system.

* At some point routine water samples were not taken for bacteria studies. At the same time, the village was commended for submitting two samples a month and asked to cut back to one.

* The village was asked to stop taking water samples from the well site rather than from the distribution system.

* A cross-connection control program was needed to safeguard against contamination of the water system from back pressure or back siphonage. Air gap systems may be needed to block water flow getting back in the system. The post office, for example, has both a private well and a connection to city water and needs to have a block installed so the private well cannot pollute the public system.

* "The public water system is not adequately staffed." Duties should include reading meters, which is done by the customer in almost all cases, as well as a wide range of maintenance tasks, several that should be done daily. The village only has one designated public works employee, plus the clerk, both of whom work part-time.

* The water system also does not have a generator at each well to maintain operation during a power outage.

* Master meter readings should be taken daily as a way to monitor potential leaks in the system.

Board members had little to say about the report. Mayor Mike Ortwein talked about scheduling someone to take daily readings at the wells. No excessive leakage has been found, an observation also made by the circuit rider for the Missouri Rural Water Association.

Clerk Deborah Schoen said an annual review of water rates by the board would help avoid big hikes to generate funds in case of trouble. Outgoing water operator Charlie Ingram said DNR will eventually want the village's water system chlorinated, even if the water samples continue to show no bacteria problems.

Board members spent a half hour interviewing candidates for Ingram's position. At a special meeting held on Aug. 20, a vote was taken to hire Charles Stearns, of Stotts City, for the job. The clerk rewrote the employment contract, including more duties and a job description that included specifics cited in the DNR inspection report.

DNR had asked that any public works employee have a DS2 license, because the village operates two wells. Both applicants had DS3 licenses. Stearns will begin his duties on Sept. 1 and will receive $600 a month.

During the special meeting, board members also voted to pay the village marshal $10 an hour on a contract basis.

Board members have asked Kevin Davis to take a more active role as village marshal, including inspecting properties. Forms for inspections have been obtained from Rick Woods, Aurora's inspector. Davis indicated Freistatt's ordinance may need more specifics, plus the addition of an unsafe building ordinance. Schoen reported she is looking into ordinances from other cities for additional language.

Board members revisited the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) policy for mowing right-of-ways in Freistatt. Schoen reported MoDOT had sold most of its small equipment and now relied on community service teams for such labor.

MoDOT supervisor Skip Schaller tracked towns having major events and had mowing done in a timely way so that appearances were good for incoming crowds. Schaller got mowing done on the south end of Highway H right before Ernte Fest.

Schoen said she talked to Schaller about MoDOT's practice of using the parking areas by Trinity Lutheran Church and School for portable scales to weight trucks. The parking lots were breaking up due to semis being parked on them for extended periods. Schaller agreed to review the practice.

Exploring options for mosquito spraying, board members had a quote of $353 from the city of Monett for labor, materials and equipment for one treatment. The board decided one time would not be enough and declined the offer.

In other action, the board approved a property tax levy of 25.74 cents per $100 of assessed property for the coming tax cycle. The levy represented a decline from 24.9 cents last year.

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