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Armstrong addresses water tower, law enforcement crises

By Staff | Mar 14, 2014

The Armstrong City Council in a special Monday session addressed two sudden emergencies – a burst water tower and an expected law enforcement agreement with the Estherville Police Department that fell apart last week.

According to mayor Greg Buum, the standpipe for the 85,000-gallon north water tower blew a week ago Monday when it froze, leaving the city with just the 110,000-gallon south water tower to meet a DNR-recommended 124,000-gallon-a-day flow.

Buum said Maguire Iron, the Sioux Falls, S.D. company that has been doing the city’s water tower work, wanted to build a new standpipe from the ground up rather than repair it. The cost would be $44,000 plus another $25,000 to $30,000 for painting. Buum asked if the council wanted to spend $80,000 to repair the old tower.

Maintenance supervisor Tom Leach said a 50,000-gallon steel tank could cost $150,000-$200,000. And that would still bring the city’s water capacity up short from what it was before with the 85,000-gallon tank.

“It would be pointless to put up something smaller,” Leach said.

“Can we put up something smaller?” asked council member Jon Larsen.

“No,” said Buum. “We’re talking about in the ballpark of $100,000 to bring this up,” or repairing the old tower, Buum said.

Council member Rhett Hiney agreed the city should build another tower.

The council agreed to get bids for the water plant and tower.

The council next discussed police coverage for the city. Buum said he had thought the city could secure an agreement with Estherville, but that didn’t happen.

“I was totally surprised,” said Buum.

Police chief Craig Merrill proposed a number of options – hiring a second full-time officer which he said would be the most expensive or hiring a part-time officer which he said would be difficult.

Merrill did note one or two individuals in the city that might be interested, and that emergency calls were still being dispatched by the county.

When Hiney asked what the advantage would be of going countywide, Merrill said it would give him some time off.

“I would hate to see you go countywide,” said Buum.

Council member Adrian Hagebock asked Merrill which option he preferred, and Merrill said finding a part-time officer would be best. “That I find the best choice,” he said.

“If we could find a couple guys right now that could cover for us,” said Buum.

“I think getting a part-time list would be a good idea,” said Merrill.

Hiney asked the city should meet with the Emmet County Board of Supervisors regarding the dispatching and law enforcement coverage issues. Emmet County sheriff Mike Martens canceled both agreements after the City of Armstrong stopped paying dispatching fees in an attempt to renegotiate them.

The council agreed to advertise for part-time officers and to meet with the supervisors March 25.