Marion resident asks city to help pay for sewer backup system problems

Pat Patterson has had his brush with Marion city history courtesy of sewer system backups, and now he’d like the city to help pay the bill.

Patterson, who lives in a historical Victorian-type house with long front porch on Santa Fe Street, explained his unwitting connection with the past to the Marion City Commission Monday.

Patterson said he began having sewer problems three or four years ago with the backups accelerating to requiring a plumber to rotor the line out every two to three months this year.

He had to call the plumber, Tony Schafers, in November after his wife came home from surgery, and then again nearly right away. Schafers cleared 160 feet of line to the concrete slab at the alley to discover his sewer was hooked into an old line, but it wasn’t the city sewer.

“I’ve been paying sewer service for 16 years,” he said, “and I never was hooked up.”

The city crew was called in to hook him up right. Public Works Director Harvey Sanders guessed that the line might have gone to an old septic system the city once had in the early 1900s “down by the creek” where the police station is now located. He knows there were once two such systems, one for the valley and one for the hill.

As to how long ago Patterson’s hook-up might have been done, Sanders had no idea. The current sewer and the concrete along the alley both pre-date his time in Marion, and who knows how long ago Patterson’s home might have been hooked up.

Patterson said it appears he was able to get along with the system during the dry years since he moved in in 1989, but the current bout of wet weather put the system on overload.

“I don’t know the final bill yet,” he said, but he would like the city’s help.

Mayor Martin Tice said he would like to know the final bill rather than sign off on a blank check, and he wondered what future liability a payment could obligate the city to.

City Attorney Dan Baldwin said he believed the city could take any sewer back-up cases on a case by case basis rather than have just one form a precedent.

Commissioners Larry McLain and Jim Crofoot appeared in sympathy with Patterson’s plight.

Crofoot said he hoped any old septic system was filled in, and Sanders assured him all known ones were.

City Administrator David Mayfield said he may need to meet with Schafers to discuss the work at Patterson’s.

Fire Chief Thad Meierhoff announced the fire department received $3,300 from the Jack Richmond memorial fund, “which was very nice of his family, I think.” The money has been spent, he said, on a compressor to fill the cascade system, a needed item “that will last a good number of years.”

Mayfield said Marty Fredrickson, street superintendent, wanted the public to realize that the water plant is not adding ammonia to the water yet. He said the public will be notified in time to safeguard fish aquarium and pool projects.

Sanders said the city had to run two trash trucks over the Thanksgiving holiday to keep up with the demand.

Sanders said a carbon room at the water plant has been completed.

He said the city crew has been able to repair a dirt bucket that was “torn up” digging a grave at the cemetary.

The commissioners reappointed Harold Conyers to a four-year-term on the Housing Authority Board.

They approved an agreement for the Marion Fire Department to respond to the City of Florence for aid when requested for fire protection.

Mayfield said Florence already approved such a response for Marion by its fire department.

Police Chief Michel Soyez said he is revamping a computer program that may enable investigative requests by officers from the federal government to be shortened to less than one hour from four to five hours.

Soyez said Kiwanis Club members have voted to move the staging area of the Old Settlers Day Parade to Walnut Street.

Mayfield said evaluations of all city employees should be completed before a new pay period in January.

He said Dave Arteberry, agent with George K. Baum & Company, has recommended that Marion not refinance any bonds because there would be no cost savings due to the difference in the interest rate compared to the cost to reissue the bonds.

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