IRON RIVER TOWNSHIP—Letters will be sent out to water customers who may lose their township water connection when the planned Rural Development (RD) water project is completed.
Jeff Bal of GEI Consultants was at the Iron River Township’s Dec. 13 board meeting, updating the board on both the RD water project and the MEDC project.
Regarding the RD project, Bal said he’s waiting for the final permits from the DEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality).
Supervisor Mark Polley noted that the township needs to redo its water ordinance, adding the number of customers who will be cut off from the system.
About 12 to 19 water customers, said Bal, noting that the DEQ will hold up permits if this issue isn’t addressed.
The customers in question, according to Bal, are the ones that the township can’t provide sufficient water pressure to (35 pounds of pressure).
The three areas with customers who could be disconnected include the Olson Loop Road (six customers), Metros Road (all three customers) and Old Beechwood Road (10 customers).
Bal said the township has been “going back and forth” with the DEQ about keeping these customers, but the permits are dependent on the township resolving this issue.
“The DEQ has been chasing down this problem for many years,” Bal told the Township Board.
“I want to stress it’s the DEQ stressing the cut-off, not this board and not GEI,” Trustee Ken Piwarski told residents attending the board meeting.
According to Bal, the DEQ has received complaints from township customers who were not getting sufficient pressure. Water pressure less than 35 pounds presents health concerns/problems according to clean water standards, said Bal.
“The township doesn’t have a choice if it’s not providing the 35 pounds of pressure,” said Bal. “This township board and (your) other township boards have been fighting this for the past 10 years. You need the permits to do $3 million of work. Until you take care of this, no permits.”
The date for those customers to be disconnected from the water main is Dec. 31, 2014.
Bal was asked to submit the notification letter first to the Township Board for any input prior to the letter being sent out to those customers.
A meeting was set for Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 5:30 p.m. at the Township Hall to finish work on the water ordinance, which would then be discussed at a public hearing prior to the board’s regular meeting on Jan. 14.
The $4 million RD project includes a 100 percent grant for $2.8 million to the township, but the stipulation with the grant are the disconnects and water meters, noted the board.
Regarding the MEDC project, Bal said he had the final change order, which included work on the water tanks, tank houses and water main on U.S. 2. Bal said Hebert Construction finished the work for $2,400--over budget.
However, Polley reminded Bal that the board had agreed to the work, which was not to exceed $1,500, a difference of $900.
The $900 was not a lot of money, said Polley, “but without a millage, that’s a lot of money,” he said. “I’m kind of disappointed how this is coming out.”
Bal said there was a lot of “bits and pieces” added into the project. This final change order, he said, will close out the project, which remains under warranty until October 2012.
On a 3-2 vote, the board approved payment. (Polley and Trustee Alden Froblom voted against the motion, with Piwarski, Treasurer Nancy Clements and Clerk Amber Laturi voting in favor.)
The board approved the new agreement with Fair Air Internet, which will pay the township an additional $20 per month.
According to Polley, the original contract with Fast Air, which uses space on the Ryden tank for its Internet service, has not been updated regarding the number of customers using the Internet provider.
Mike Stafford of Fast Air told the board the original contract called for $1 a customer plus $10 per month. Then the township got the Internet, he said. The township has been receiving $64 minus the $35 Internet fee, said Stafford.
On a motion by Laturi, seconded by Clements, the board OK’d the fee of $64 minus $35 for the Internet plus an additional $20 per month.
The board approved a safety bonus of $150 each for the three township employees: Ron Froblom, Bob Maki and George Hibbard.
The board also approved a $1 an hour pay raise for t he three employees beginning with the next payroll.
Piwarski, who noted that the employees did not get a raise last year, motioned for an increase of 50 cents per hour but the motion died for lack of support.
Polley, citing the hours and conditions the employees work as part of their jobs, motioned to increase the hourly rate to $1. His motion, seconded by Clements, passed unanimously.
The board also approved giving full benefits to Hibbard who has worked for the township for six years, four years part-time and the last two years, full-time.
Hibbard told the board that he has not received any benefits during his two years of full-time employment.
Piwarski updated the board on the status of its timber sale agreement with Timber Ridge Brokerage. The company is still waiting for a permit from the U.S. Forest Service.
According to Polley, the company is working on permits that will generate some $46,000 for the township
Polley noted that the state is keeping the heat and power on at Camp Ottawa. There are also motion and heat sensors installed at the site. The state will be coming back in the spring to do clean-up, he said.
There’s been talk about the state closing a prison, “so I’ve got a little hope,” he said, that those prisoners or some of them may come back to Camp Ottawa.
The user fee at the camp is now up to $300,000, said Polley, and a telephone conference is in the works “to see if we can resolve this,” he said.
The board also:
--agreed to discuss the township’s master plan at the Jan. 4 special meeting;
--agreed to hire GEI Consultants at a cost not to exceed $1,500 to do the township’s five-year Park and Recreation plan for future DNR grant funding