IRON RIVER TOWNSHIP—Updates to the sewer lift stations may be the next project for the Iron River Township Board.
At its Feb. 14 meeting, the board discussed improvements with Jeff Bal of GEI Consultants, who explained the five lift stations are approaching the length of time they were designed to last.
A complete update may be costly now, said Bal, but will end up saving the township money in the long run.
Four of the lift stations date back to 1985, while the former Camp Ottawa Prison lift station was installed in 1992.
Another reason for the upgrade is to enable the entire system to transfer to a radio-read alarm system rather than a phone-line system, which is outdated and costly.
Phone bills for the lift stations run approximately $400 to $500 per month.
Utilities Supervisor Ron Froblom had obtained quotes for needed control panels and sewer motors for the lift stations, but was unsure if everything would match up in a rehabilitated lift station.
Bal said that a compatible control scheme could be achieved with the complete upgrade.
As a preventative measure, Supervisor Mark Polley asked Bal to come up with a proposal for the project.
Bal will look at the lift stations and bring a proposal to the board.
Bal also reported on the Rural Development water line replacement project, which was recently put out for bids.
At least 10 contractors have shown interest in the project, he told the board.
Bids are scheduled to be opened during a special meeting on March 6 at 1 p.m. at the Township Hall, with GEI’s recommendation for bid awarding to be reported at the regular March meeting.
After approval from Rural Development, the project can get started, he said.
Noting that everything is on schedule, Bal hopes to be able to start work as soon as spring road restrictions are lifted.
Anyone with comments or suggestions to be added to the township’s recreation plan may do so until March 15.
The rec plan is available for review at the Township Hall and at the West Iron District Library.
Projects listed include new playground equipment, restrooms and a baseball field at Playground Road; a non-motorized trail extension; an ice rink and warming shed; a walking trail and bridge over the river north of the hall, including a handicap accessible pier and a picnic area; and boat launch upgrades at Iron Lake.
The plan, submitted by Charlotte Bofinger, was a very good draft, according to Bal.
“I’d say it’s perfect,” he said.
Noting that it is not necessary to prioritize projects or have cost estimates at the time of submission to the DNR, he suggested taking public comment until the deadline and then hold a special meeting on March 15 at 10 a.m.
At that time the board should pass a resolution to accept the plan. It will then be submitted to the DNR.
If the township decides to go ahead with any of the proposed projects, a grant application must be submitted by April 2.
The DNR’s Trust Fund Program will likely fund up to $300,000 of a project, according to Bal. A 25-percent match is required, but can be in kind materials or labor rather than a full cash match.
Problems with one local credit union and its decision to ignore outstanding utility bills on foreclosed or bankrupt properties has prompted the board to take action.
A letter will be written to the financial institution asking them to rectify the situation.
The money is significant to the township and the net result is going to be an increase for others when the outstanding bills are not paid, according to board members and Township Attorney Steve Polich.
The township is currently owed money from four or five former customers who were either foreclosed on, filed bankruptcy or are deceased with no money in their estate.
Iron County Commissioner Wayne Wales updated the Township Board on county-wide issues, including the elimination of the planning commission, noting that its one less problem to deal with.
The county parks and recreation committee remains intact and is required to meet two times per year.
An update was given on the Iron County Medical Care Facility expansion project.
The County Board recently approved the $9.1 million expansion, which was first brought up about six months ago.
“There was a delay,” Wales said, “but now all are in agreement.”
He added that the interest on the bonds is now down to 3.7 percent and that the medical care facility has also come up with another $2 million to put towards the project.
“It had been a pretty high risk to the taxpayers.” He said.
Wales expects the project to start moving by spring.
“It will be very good for the county.” He added.
With the low interest rates, Wales said that other county bonds, including the Courthouse renovation bonds, were rewritten, saving Iron County taxpayers roughly $1 million.
“They were not extended,” he said, “just re-written.”
All discrepancies with the Dickinson Iron Community Service Agency are being resolved, Wales told the board.
Wales also conveyed the County Board’s T.I.F. issue resolution with the city of Iron River; the completion of the solid waste plan, allowing any licensed solid waste company to legally haul garbage out of the county, and the Andreski property trade, allowing the county to acquire a piece of property sought by the state.
In other action, the Township Board unanimously voted to eliminate the position of township constable, with a motion from Trustee Ken Piwarski and support from Trustee Al Froblom.
The board of review date has changed from Monday, March 12, to Wednesday, March 14.
The board set the date of its annual meeting for the last Saturday in March, which falls on March 31 at 6 p.m.