Shawn Welte, representing Davy Engineering, updated the council on the status of the water and sewer project at the Mabel City Council meeting last Wednesday evening. The project is slated to take place in Mabel this summer.

Welte explained to the council that the plans were currently at Rural Development for review. He shared that he and fellow engineer Mark Davy had agreed to break the project into two separate parts - one part that included the sewer and water line rehab and the other that would deal with the facilities issue.

The separation was done because different types of contractors would be needed for each part of the job. The first part consists of limiting infiltration and inflow to the sanitary sewer through cracks and breaks in the lines. Contractors would likely reline the current pipes, sealing those areas where water can filter into the pipes. This would reduce the flow of water into the wastewater treatment plant.

The second part - where Welte said, "You have to dig stuff up," - requires contractors with more specialized skills.

If both parts of the project were combined, Welte shared, the general contractor would likely find the workers to do the first part of the project, but increase the costs for the city.

That said, Welte admitted that Rural Development didn't like the way the projects were divided, which resulted in addressing certain issues and resubmitting paperwork.

"Rural Development didn't like the way we set it up, but it doesn't make sense for us to handle it as one project," he reiterated. "Rural Development thought it would create a situation of 'finger pointing,' but I don't really think that's a concern."

One challenge the city will face as the repairs are being done to the wastewater treatment plant will be alternative treatment options when the plant is taken out of service.

Welte explained that the city would need to store the wastewater during that time, which could be done on a short-term basis in the reed beds located near the plant. "We cannot partially treat the wastewater or not treat the wastewater," Welte said. "We will be asking the contractor to work around the clock because we have to treat the wastewater and can only be out of service for a limited time."

He feels this is a better plan than hauling the untreated wastewater to another nearby plant for treatment.

Even though Welte said there were a "good number of other things we hadn't been anticipating" which they had to go in and address regarding the plans, he anticipates there should be approval on the sewer and water rehab portion this spring and then the city can proceed with bidding out the project.

He said the project will likely be billed in intervals as the sewer and water lines should be done before the wastewater treatment plant repairs. This will cut down on the need to treat any extra water as the pipes will have been resealed.

"We still anticipate bidding this project this spring," Welte said. "It is to our benefit to bid the project as soon as we can. We anticipate better pricing if we can bid it in the spring."

He said they are waiting for Rural Development to provide "their language" for the bidding documents and once that is received, an advertisement for bids will be placed in the local and regional papers. Once it is advertised, there will be a 30-day period of time to collect the bids. The council will then approve the contractors at a meeting and the project can proceed.

Because of some items that are expected to go over budget, Welte said repairs to the water main on Oak Street will be removed from the project.

"The priority is the sewer main as that is the main deficiency," he said.

In a final matter, Welte told the council that Davy Engineering could assist the city in its project of replacing all its water meters. He said the firm has handled the same kind of project for Caledonia.

"I know Bob is very capable and the city was going to take care of this, but I just wanted to let the city know this is a service we can provide," Welte added. "We would bill it on an hourly basis, but wouldn't expect it to exceed a budget of $3,000."

Ambulance

Ambulance director Neil Folstad appeared before the council and suggested an incentive to keep ambulance members on staff. Folstad shared with the council that EMTs are required to take an EMT refresher course every two years. Folstad suggested an incentive for ambulance members of $200 for successfully completing the refresher course and $500 for successfully completing the initial EMT course to entice new members. Folstad added that he would recommend the incentive be given after a one year commitment to the Mabel Ambulance.

The council concurred with Folstad's suggestion about offering an incentive, approving a bonus of $200 for successfully completing the refresher course or one-time deal of $500 for successfully completing the EMT exam.

Council member Laura St. Mary stated that she and other citizens would like to encourage the city staff to serve on either the ambulance or fire departments.

In a related matter, the council agreed to renew its annual ambulance contract with Fillmore County. By renewing their contract, the ambulance receives $4,500 that is placed in the general fund and return provides ambulance coverage for the out-of-town area surrounding Mabel.

The council also renewed the contract with Expert-T Billing for the Mabel Ambulance.

Administration

After anticipating his full retirement for the past few months, the council officially accepted the resignation of City Clerk Jim Narum, effective March 31. The council expressed its gratitude for the years of service Narum provided to the city of Mabel.

With that resignation, Karen Larson, who was the current deputy clerk, was promoted to the clerk position. She was also given a wage adjustment, based on her additional duties, to $19.50 per hour.

Nathan Manning was offered and accepted the position of deputy clerk. He will be paid $14 an hour and had started work the previous week.

Public works

Bob Mierau, Mabel's city maintenance director, came forward with several matters for the council to discuss.

The council agreed to once again offer a clean up day. The clean up day will be held on Saturday, May 11, from 8 a.m. to noon. Richard's Sanitation will supply a large dumpster at the wastewater treatment plant. Residents will be charged $10 per load and $10 for each appliance to be disposed.

After a brief discussion, the council agreed that the maintenance crew will continue to pick up compost on a weekly basis.

The council approved placing an ad for general mowing during the summer for $9.05 an hour. The position consists of an average of 10 to 14 hours a week of mowing parks and city-owned properties. The city extended its thanks to Harry Williams who had filled this position for the past several years.

Mireau also asked council for permission to create a spec sheet for shingling the fire hall to give to local contractors. He said several have shown interest in the job, but having something for which they can base their estimates on would keep the process fair and allow the city to hire the contractor with the best price for the same product.

At the Feb. 11 city council meeting, Mierau had explained that the site where the water tower is located is accessible by a road that Don Gjere built to access lots on his housing development. The city would need to get an easement for access to the water tower. In exchange, the Gjeres would like to see the road blacktopped, which would be the city's responsibility.

Mierau added that a rough estimate of the cost to do this would be $10,000. He also noted that Brian Gjere had agreed to granting the city an easement pending the council's approval to blacktop the road.

Since that time, Gjere had reported to Mireau that estimates he had received were over $10,000 for four inches of blacktop. Mireau explained that the costs he had received were for three inches, which he felt would be adequate on that road due to the amount of traffic it sees.

Other business

• Jim Narum agreed to come in after retirement to help Karen Larson filter files and help with reports in exchange for an additional month of single-coverage health insurance.

• The EDA recommended the city purchase the former "Shoe String" building for $3,500, which was approved.

• Council member Kirsten Wyffel reminded the council of an informational meeting on the potential grocery store, which is set for Wednesday, April 3.