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Armstrong moves forward with GKN on wastewater plan

By Staff | Jun 6, 2014

The Armstrong City Council Monday decided to move forward with GKN’s proposal to allow it to hook up to the city sewer system.

Stephen Dusold, GKN general manager, said the company which now dumps into the Des Moines east fork had done upgrades to its wastewater system to make it fully compliant. Dusold said a benefit to the city would be a revenue stream from GKN which would pay for getting its wastewater to the city lift station. He estimated a maximum of 10,000 gallons of wastewater a day.

Dusold said GKN preferred giving its wastewater to the city rather than dumping into the river – noting that was the preference of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources as well.

“We have a lot of money to spend,” said mayor Greg Buum, noting the number of large capital projects the city faces – two of which are upgrading its water and wastewater systems.

Council member Don Leach said the city was not under a DNR deadline now for wastewater compliance but would be if GKN came onboard.

“We know ammonia’s kind of our Achilles’, said Dusold, also adding that since GKN would only be contributing 5 percent of the city’s overall wastewater that that shouldn’t be an issue.

“We want to be a good partner,” Dusold said.

Mayor Greg Buum said GKN currently faces a December 2015 compliance deadline from the DNR. Kelly Evans, engineer with I&S Group which did the city water supply, treatment, storage and distribution system improvement plan, said the city could probably get a one- to two-year extension from the DNR.

“I don’t think we have too much of a choice,” said council member Jon Larsen. “I say we should start moving forward (with bringing GKN onboard). I think we should give it the green light.”

“I don’t see any advantage,” said council member Don Leach.

Dusold said one of GKN’s goals was a positive relationship with the city. “A ‘no’ signal is certainly not a very positive one,” Dusold said.

“Is it the compliance schedule that’s a scare for us?” asked council member Adrian Hagebock, and Buum said it was.

Dusold said it would take 60-90 days for GKN to be fully complaint and that he wanted the company to be treated like other industrial users.

Buum said the council should decide the matter at its July meeting.

In another matter, Evans said the old north water tower was up and running. He suggested instead of sandblasting the city could prime and repaint it for $100,000 to $120,000.

Council member Rhett Hiney said he would prefer to go with Option C of the I&S water study. Evans said that would cost another $275,000 to check and replace water mains.

Evans also suggested the city increase industrial wastewater rates immediately.

In other business, Craig Merrill, now acting maintenance supervisor as well as police chief, said the city pool will possibly open Saturday.

The council also discussed hiring a maintenance person. Buum said if Merrill should take the position and continue as a part-time officer, then the city would hire a full-time officer. The other option would be to hire a full-time maintenance person other than Merrill.

Merrill said he did not believe the city would be able to hire a part-time officer.

Buum said he liked the option of hiring Merrill for maintenance supervisor and that Merrill didn’t have that far to go to get all his certifications. Merrill has been assisting former maintenance director Tom Leach in the maintenance department. Leach’s last day was Friday, May 30.

Buum said he will let the personnel committee look at applications that have come in for the maintenance supervisor position.

The council approving hiring Brian Klein as affidavit operator to handle the city’s water and wastewater DNR compliance for $1,470 for the first month and $736 for later months. Klein previously worked for the city and officially started Tuesday.

The council took no action on a request to sell Pierce Alley. They also discussed the Emmet County Freedom Rock.

The council agreed to give away the siren in Columbian Park so it can be used as a warning siren in the trailer park. The council also approved a special event license for Dale’s Recreation July 5-7, July 12-14 and July 19-21.

Mayor Buum reacted to a proposal by Sheriff Mike Martens to patrol Armstrong 20 hours a week for $77,000 a year.

“We’re not going to save $30,000 and get 20 hours less coverage,” Buum said.