The Freistatt Village Board in February voted at its February meeting to end the unique practice of having water customers read their own meters.
"It's time we came up on the 21st Century," said Mayor Mike Ortwein. "A lot of people in town are elderly. They have to lay on the ground to read the meter. I've watched them have trouble getting up and down. We're trying to help the community. It seemed like a good thing to do."
Water operator Charles Stearns will be reading the nearly 90 meters. The ordinance making the change stated meters would be read monthly between the 15th and the 20th. Stearns said he could get all the meters read in about three hours, weather permitting.
No objections to the proposal had been voiced in town, reported Stearns and board members. Village Clerk Deborah Schoen said the switch would provide more consistent readings and should help in the early detection of water leaks.
The new practice goes into effect with the meter reading period starting April 15.
A letter is being sent to all water customers explaining the change. Board member Brian Paynter wanted notification to go out immediately so that anyone with questions could come to the board meeting on March 11 and voice concerns.
Board members looked at a number of other community improvement projects.
An ordinance was passed to prohibit parking within 15 feet of the village's two crosswalks over Highway H. Paynter determined the distance should be sufficient to provide visibility for children running out to the road from the curb.
The ordinance will be sent to the Missouri Department of Transportation for approval before it can go into effect, since the road involved is a state highway.
Ortwein reported he had been studying broken sidewalks around town. On Highway H between Biermann's and the open parking lot across from the church, there are 19 broken sections and 35 on both sides along Third Street. The worst problem was across from the church, where every section paralleling the parking lot was broken.
"I saw no reason to [repair] one area if there are several in town that need it," Ortwein said. "It will get expensive to do them all."
Board members agreed trucks turning around in the church parking lot and driving over the sidewalk would continue to break any repairs. Ortwein suggested taking that section of sidewalk out altogether.
The issue was tabled for further study. Ortwein volunteered to talk to the church board about instituting angle parking by the church.
Board members approved a recommendation from Terry Tennill to install vents on both ends of the Community Building to help release humidity. Tennill had not found any sources of mold while studying the building but had found there was no way to vent air between the original ceiling tiles and the roof. Board members agreed to buy the parts and hire Tennill to install the vents for $40.
Stearns reported that water tests were back from the pond where the city's sewer spill took place and a comparable pond on Melvin Bracht's property. The contaminated pond had better readings for biochemical oxygen demand and ammonia than the Bracht pond. Coliform bacteria levels were about the same in both.
Landowners using the contaminated pond were satisfied with the report and chose not to ask the city for further remediation at the pond, unless cows became sick later. Lime would be spread along the ditch area to neutralize any lasting contaminants, Ortwein said.
Board members approved a bid from the CPA Group in Monett for the city's annual audit for the next three years. The Monett firm was the only bidder for the job. Rates in the bid included $2,750 for fiscal year 2009, $3,000 for FY 2010 and $3,300 for FY 2011. The quoted rate was $90 an hour.
Ortwein reported his church recently purchased new pews and has older padded pews the congregation is willing to donate to the village. The pews would replace five pews in the Community Building that came from the original Trinity Lutheran Church before the current church was built in 1954.
Board members agreed to give the pews back to the church or offer them to the public if the church is not interested. Until a decision was made, the pews would be placed in storage.