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Freistatt officials tackle water issues

Monday, November 23, 2009

Water issues were discussed at length during the November monthly meeting of the Freistatt village Board of Trustees.

Charles Stearns, the new water operator, talked about progress made changing out meters. With the assistance of Kevin Davis, seven of the first 10 meters identified for changing over the summer have now been switched.

Davis reported a number of meters have proven troublesome, especially those set below ground in concrete pits that have been filling up with water.

Trustees directed Stearns to continue replacing the meters as planned, rather than skipping ahead to easier switches. Mayor Mike Ortwein recommended getting several extra larger meters for inventory and to make the extra effort to install shut-off valves on all the new installations despite the extra time.

A big change appears to be coming in the way Freistatt handles its water accounts as trustees discussed having Stearns take monthly meter readings. At present residents are reading their own meters and calculating their own payments with village officials reading the meters once a year.

Trustees directed Stearns to read all the meters in town by the end of the month. Ortwein said the readings would provide the base for annual sewer averages usually taken in January.

The village had received a non-compliance letter from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for failure to file the quarterly report. Stearns indicated there was no problem, and he would take care of the matter.

A report on the DNR's inspection of the village's sewer system was presented. Clerk Deborah Schoen said the village would be able to pass though the report cited compliance limits that were not being met. Stearns said he would consult with others more familiar with the process to figure out what changes Freistatt should make.

Facilities issues

Inspectors for Oak Creek Hydrant Services recently completed inspecting the village's 21 hydrants. Ortwein had been authorized to hire them to look at hydrants after the circuit rider for the Missouri Rural Water Association found several were leaking.

All five flush hydrants in the system needed repairs, Ortwein said. Four needed to be rebuilt at a cost of $75 each, and the fifth had a leaking bonnet and seat, which would cost $300 to fix. Trustees approved the work. The other hydrants had all been oiled and were fine, Ortwein said.

The mayor also reported that the community building had been inspected for water leaks when doors were replaced. Willie Hesemann had not been able to remove the paneling to assess the mold situation.

Schoen said out the village's insurance policy had a mold removal clause in it. Anticipating the insurance company could provide direction, trustees asked Schoen to pursue getting a mold expert.

Filing dates scheduled

Trustees approved filing dates for the April 6 annual election. Two-year seats open next year are presently held by Ortwein and Delpha Bowling.

Schoen said she would be in the office on the first day of filings on Dec. 15 and the last day, on Jan. 19. She would post hours on the door for other times she would be available.

Financial action

Trustees agreed to roll over a certificate of deposit for another six months.

After Biermann's restaurant closed in July and the water bill was set at a minimum, it was discovered the sewer bill had not been reduced at the same time. Trustees agreed to drop the sewer bill to a minimum rate for the September and October billing period.

Upcoming dates

Schoen let trustees know a free workshop on the Missouri Sunshine Law was being offered on Nov. 23 in the emergency management office in the basement of the Lawrence County Justice Center in Mt. Vernon at 1:30 p.m.

Christmas decorations will be placed on Highway H on Saturday, Nov. 28, Schoen said.

The next monthly board meeting has been moved to 7 p.m. on Dec. 17. A budget workshop has been scheduled for Dec. 3.

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