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Storm siren failure prompts purchase by Freistatt Village Board

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Freistatt Community Building.
The Freistatt Village Board of Trustees voted to buy a new storm siren at their June meeting.

Failure of the village's storm siren to work at all on May 22 when the tornado that hit Joplin approached the village prompted firefighter Brandon Wormington to drive around town in a fire truck with the siren running, urging people to take cover.

Mayor Mike Ortwein, who had spearheaded purchasing the village's siren six years ago and had tried to get its rotating unit fixed, said the latest problem stemmed from switching to a narrow band radio wave for the activation signal from Monett. It would cost $3,500 to modify the siren.

Rather than investing more money in a 1948 siren for which parts are hard to get, Ortwein brought the board two bids for a new siren. Trustees picked a 2001-130 Codespear model made by Federal Signal that could be purchased from Blue Valley Public Safety in Green City, the same vendor that sold the old unit. Cost is $14,675.12. Trustees had enough money in the general fund to make the purchase, he said.

The new siren has a longer range and a gear operated rotator, as opposed to the electric motor and pulley on the old unit. The existing pole can be used, saving $1,000, and trustees opted to go for a refurbished control box at full warranty, saving $2,500 on a new one.

The old siren can be activated manually, Ortwein said. The village plans to sell it for scrap unless someone wants to buy it, he added.

Ordinance changes

Clerk Deborah Schoen reported she has been reviewing ordinances in the process of preparing a fine schedule for the Lawrence County Associate Circuit Court to use in handling tickets issued by the village marshal. She found language that needed to be changed, such as the "dogs at large" ordinance referred to a dogcatcher, which the village does not have. The enforcement officer was changed to the marshal.

Ordinances referred to a range of fines from $50 to $500. Trustees agreed to a schedule charging $50 for the first offense and adding $50 for each subsequent offense. They preferred sticking to fines rather than impose jail time, for which the village would have to pay.

Schoen also found the ordinance on livestock had problems with the numbering of its sections. Trustees adopted a corrected version that also fits the new fine schedule.

To present the fine schedule to the court, Schoen said she is continuing to work on preparing a complete set of ordinances with corresponding fine references to be ready by the next court date on June 23.

DNR settlement

Attorney Bill Petrus sent the village the written terms for the settlement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources over the Dec. 17, 2009 sewage spill. Petrus pointed out the agreement requires the village to take specific steps in light of a future incident, including institute a maintenance and repair program with routine system inspections.

Schoen walked trustees through the document, pointing out that the village must subject a tracking and management system for review within 30 days of the settlement. Within 90 days the maintenance and repair program plan must be submitted for review and approval, along with distribution of the educational flier to all sewer system users.

Administrative reports

Trustees reviewed property maintenance issues. The village's official originating agency identifier (ORI) number has not yet been reactivated, delaying the issuance of more tickets.

Utilities customers paid only $24.37 in late fees during May, Schoen said.

Village wells pumped 366,000 gallons in May. The wastewater lagoon and lift station were checked nine times during the month. The wastewater lagoon was maintained at a level of one foot, four inches.

The board will next meet on July 14 at the Freistatt Community Building.

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