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Leaving Council No Option –– City Must Chlorinate Wells

By Sue Curry Jones

With the absence of Mayor Eddie Maggard, Ava Board of Aldermen convened Tuesday afternoon with East Ward Alderman and board president, Burrely Loftin, facilitat­ing the lengthy meeting.   Aldermen Keith Jones, David Norman and Bill Long were present for the session.

The final status of well No. 7, the new well located south of Ava, was discussed during Tuesday’s meeting. Director of Development Janice Lorrain informed council the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is requiring the City of Ava to put the well into service or pay back funds received for drilling and building the well site.

Lorrain advised the only DNR approved option for the City of Ava was the chlorination of the well, and because of contamination at this well site, the entire system must also be treated.

According to records, water tests at well No. 7 were first sampled in March 2011, and routine testing con­tinued throughout the first year. However, due to the presence of E. Coli bacteria in all of the results, the well has never been used or connected to the city water system. To-date, a specific conduit for the bacteria’s transmission into the well water has not been identified, found or located.

Nonetheless, DNR requires the city to have the well in use within a set timeframe, and the deadline for finalizing the grant initiative is fast approaching with Wednesday, Sept. 3 the designated closeout date.

According to city officials, at this phase of the project the City has no other choice, adding chlorine to the system is the only doable option. The only other possibility would be to cap the well and not use the site, but that also means the City must pay back approximately $300,000 in grant money, and that is not feasible.

According to DNR, chlorination is considered an efficient disinfectant for drinking water. Today it has become an acceptable practice for cities to add chlorine to the public water system, and most generally, it is done solely for the purpose of killing disease-causing bacteria in water tanks or transport pipes.

As previously discussed, the city is planning on using liquid chlorine rather than gas. Both venues can pose hazards, but the liquid format appears to be less volatile and cheaper to incorporate.

According to details presented in a prior council meeting, estimated costs for a liquid system were cited to be around $30,000. Chlorination stations will be installed in each of the four city well houses.

In other business, aldermen acted upon a request from Alicia Degase, Douglas County Assessor, who had appeared before councilmen during a January 2014 session to ask the city to participate in funding the county’s rural GPS address system. During the January meeting, no actions were discussed or proposed by council; however, on Tuesday evening, aldermen briefly discussed Degase’s request for monetary support and voted against the option.

According to City Clerk Suzanne Welsh, Degase was asking the city to contribute $5,825 to assist in the total cost of the project. In the discussion, council noted the system was geared to addressing real estate locations and served as a useful tool for the assessor’s office, but the system did not offer a tangible value or a necessary service for the City of Ava. In a unanimous vote, council chose not to contribute funds to the project.

Council opted to pursue repairing a faulty culvert on NE 5th Street, near 11th Avenue. The culvert has damage from long-term erosion, and after careful review of the site, council members have concluded that repairing the site is a feasible solution to the problem. Facilitating repairs is also most cost effective.

According to Director of Development Janice Lorrain, a complete replacement with a pre-cast structure is estimated to cost around $50,000, and also requires a permit from the Corp of Engineers, a process that can take six months. In response, council opted to construct a floor within the culvert, and create a concrete base that will add firm support to each sidewall. It will also alleviate erosion issues.

Material costs for implementing the repair were given as $2,100; however, labor costs associated with the fix had not been determined, and those costs will be solicited by the standard bid process as councilmen move forward with the project.

In a prior session, council agreed to place for sale the city-owned rock office building located at the corner of Washington Avenue and NE 3rd Street. The real estate offering not only encompasses the rock building, but also includes a 30×60 section of the parking lot, creating a parcel that appraised for $16,500.

On Tuesday, council read four different bid offerings, all submitted by Chris Swatosh. After an open session review of the bids, the offers were rejected as council determined the amounts fell short of appraised value. The city will continue to advertise the property for sale.

With motions from aldermen Bill Long and David Norman, council gave a unanimous vote to reappoint Glenda Little to the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners for another four-year term. Little’s term will run from July 2014 to July 2018.

Council also approved and passed a conflict of interest ordinance that establishes standards for city officials and employees to follow on issues, such as: disclosure reports, conflicts of interest, and financial report filings for officials.

Max Murray, Regional Sales Manager for Waste Corporation of America, in conjunction with Will-Co Hauling of Mountain Grove, presented council with a proposal for eventually purchasing the city’s trash removal division. Murray said the company would like to establish a partnership with the City of Ava, and initially upon reaching a fair market value and contract price, run the service with the long-term goal of taking over the operation.

In the presentation, Murray noted the company would be responsible for hiring, training employees and expanding the operation. They would also carry the insurance umbrella, and oversee and maintain good safety records.

Amenities offered through the agreement could include lower rate structures, budget savings, higher salaries for city truck drivers (if they chose to work for the company), and the aesthetic value of residents using 96-gallon-carts on pick-up days.

Murray said the service also includes residential curbside recycling; however, rather than interfering with the local recycling operation already in place, the company would find a way to network with the local group and enhance their business, if that offer was agreeable.

If a deal is attained, Murray said the division would continue to operate under the city’s umbrella and under the authority of the board. The corporate goal is to provide outstanding service to residents of the area. At present, Murray noted Waste Corporation of America provides services to Gainesville, Mansfield and Willow Springs, and other municipalities.

Murray answered questions from council members and employees, but no decision was forthcoming on the proposal.

Making a plea to council, a local resident asked the board of aldermen to review traffic patterns and speed limit markings on NE 5th, noting safety issues. The resident said the street is not only used as a venue for school traffic, but it is also heavily traveled during local shift changes – and, many vehicles are speeding, making the road unsafe for walkers and neighbors. It was noted that the vehicles did slow down when the Ava Police were patrolling the area, however, once police left the road, the speeding started up again.

Council told the resident the issue would be addressed through the Ava Police Department and a remedy to the problem would be attained.

Other issues discussed by council included the following items: airport hangars, upgrades and maintenance, the city’s policy for buying tires for vehicles, CDL requirements and deadlines for employees, the use of city-owned vehicles outside the city limits, and meeting future needs for installing a 911 emergency system in rural communities.

During closed session, the board discussed litigation and personnel issues. No votes were taken.

The Board of Aldermen will meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 5:00 p.m. at Ava City Hall.