ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA GOERZEN
Police Chief Rollin Schmidt introduced new officer Robert Sieberns to the Goessel City Council at it June 19 meeting.
Sieberns lives in Goessel and had applied for the part-time position. He is an automotive instructor in Newton.
Following executive session, the council voted to hire Sieberns for about 15 hours a week or 60 hours a month. He is to start as soon as possible.
The council spent considerable time discussing the city’s wastewater system. Tim Hobson, Pat Flynn and Duane Morgan attended the meeting to discuss the situation.
Hobson, a wastewater instructor, reviewed the city’s treatment facility evaluation. He said the pond system scored 24 points.
“That’s a very high rating,” he said. “Anything over 15 points is a Type 1 facility.”
However, he said sludge is approaching the one-foot level.
“First stage organic load is higher than recommended,” he said, and added that most ponds need to be cleaned after 20 years.
“Next year is 20 years,” he said.
Morgan, who owns a dredging company in Augusta, added that 12.5 percent sludge can usually be expected after about 20 years. Goessel’s system was built in 1982.
Morgan said it costs $20,000 a surface acre to clean a lagoon, which would amount to $33,850 to dredge one lagoon.
This would be a complete “turn-key” job that would include testing, engineering, permits and the dredging itself.
Flynn said: “That’s a lot of money to borrow. So prepare now. Review your rates. Look into the future. This is never going to be glamorous.”
He suggested raising the wastewater rates a little now so the next council will not have to raise rates significantly to pay for the dredging. He reminded the council that adequate rates are also a condition of grant money; cities are expected to generate a portion of the cost from assessed fees.
Flynn added that the Environmental Protection Agency report suggests raising the rate by $2, making the average monthly bill $11. That compares to $18.20 for the Kansas average, and $30 for the national average.
Hobson concurred with Flynn and also strongly recommended raising the rates.
“It takes a commitment and a vision on your part to keep this going,” he said. He said the city should review the rates annually.
Morgan had looked at the waste facility with Goertzen and suggested dredging only the first pond initially, because that might be adequate.
“Dredging takes about a week per cell,” he said. Morgan does not recommend the other method, which would take one cell out of service for about a year to let it dry out.
Hobson said the pond system is the most complex process in a town. Besides the sludge, he also addressed other issues and suggested purchasing a testing kit for $40. Test results could show how to move the water around differently.
Hobson also identified the shape of the ponds as a problem, stating that long narrow ponds are preferred.
“We can do very little about the short-circuiting or the length-width ratio without getting out some bulldozers,” he said.
But, he suggested, “We may be able to change a few valves out there and make a difference.”
Hobson commended Goertzen.
“You’ve got a good operator here,” he said. “Five years ago nobody knew the information I’m giving you.”
Council member Larry Lindeman asked if the city will need another cell if the population stays the same. The current population is 565. He was told that another cell will probably not be needed unless the EPA standards change.
Lindeman made a motion to sign an assistance agreement for wastewater training.
In other business:
–?Schmidt reported he had taken one attempted-burglary report, assisted the sheriff’s office with an abandoned vehicle, issued three parking tickets, served two civil process papers, and found a home for one lost dog.
–?Public Works Director Arlen Goertzen reported that one day of sewer cleaning had been done recently, but heavy rain the last day or two had delayed further progress. n?The council approved the purchase of two tires at from Mid-Kansas Co-op for the city’s pickup.
–?Lindeman commended Goertzen for patching street holes. Goertzen said he talked to the county about blade patching Main Street.
–?Goertzen reported the West Branch Park sign had been vandalized again. This time it was found broken, lying in the street. The street was gouged where someone apparently dropped the sign.
— The council approved City Clerk Anita Goertzen’s request to give away promotional baskets at the state fair again.
— Because of the late hour, the council decided to delay discussion of the budget. They scheduled a special meeting for 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 26.