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Meetings last week to try to convince Riverside Water and Wastewater Superintendent Kevin Engel to delay his resignation were unsuccessful. Therefore, the Riverside City Council had decisions to make on how to staff the plant after Engel’s final day Aug. 3 after unanimously accepting his resignation.
During their special session back on July 23, when the council first discussed the resignation letter, they voted by a 4-1 margin, Council member Robert Weber dissenting, to enter into an agreement with People Service Inc. to run their water and wastewater plant, but the company needs time to train new employees to be able to smoothly transition the running of the plant.
The current start date for the contract is Nov. 1, which will be amended to reflect the actual start date once People Service is ready to take over.
As a result, the council came to an agreement with department employee Ron Hembry to help train the employees from People Services until they are ready to take full control of the city’s facilities. In doing so, the council also tabled the issue of Hembry’s affidavit to move within the required radius of the city limits by a 4-1 vote.
Council member Ralph Schnoebelen was the lone dissenter. Schnoebelen’s motion to terminate Hembry immediately, due to his breach of his hiring resolution and the employee handbook, failed for a lack of a second. Schnoebelen was still clearly upset at the end of the meeting stating, “Tonight we just went against our resolution that was passed on residency. I think we need to take the residency out of the job descriptions if we’re not going to abide by our own resolution.”
In engineering news, the city agreed to piggyback off a Washington County application for safety grant funds for work on Riverside Road. The county is widening their portion of the road, adding concrete shoulders, and adding rumble strips. County Engineer Jacob Thorius thought that piggybacking off this project for the city’s quarter mile stretch of the road would help keep the cost of the project lower.
Due to the belief that the road itself was in good shape, they agreed to enter into the grant application for work add the shoulders only. If the grant is greenlit, the project would get underway in the 2018 construction season.
During Glen Meisner’s update, the council agreed to stand pat on the start of the Highway 22 repaving, with work to be done during the 2018-19 fiscal year. The Casey’s sewer project was almost done and there are still a few cleanup items to be taken care of in the Cherry Lane subdivision.
On the Ella Street project, plans to grade the ditch and lay concrete on the sidewalks and driveways the week of Aug. 1, may hit a slight delay as it looks like Mediacom may not be able to fix their faulty poles until next week. However, Meisner is still confident in the projected finishing of the project the first week of September.
Two pay estimates for the project were also approved.
Riverside Fire Chief Chad Smothers requested that the city be able to list two of their old trucks, a 1983 grass truck and a 1990 tanker, for sale to accept bids for the next three months. The council agreed, with the stipulation that Smothers provide maintenance cost history for the trucks being sold and the safety issues on the older trucks.
The funds for the sale will go towards the purchase of a new grass fire truck. Smothers also updated the council members on the process of starting a cadet program with Highland high school. He has yet to hear back from the school on the idea, but plans to mirror the program of Columbus Junction’s system and hopes to have four participants for the first two-year period.
Finally, the council members agreed to table Doug Havel’s proposal to install solar panels for Bud’s Meats until they can get city attorney Bill Sueppel’s recommendation on whether to lease or sell Havel the land and the council gets clarification on the location of utility lines.