Piles of snow and frozen water pipes: Colfax agrees on-call help needed

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —So far this year, the Colfax area has gotten about 60 inches of snow, and village employees have had to deal with 34 frozen water laterals — and counting.

When village employees are busy plowing snow or thawing frozen water pipes, that means they do not have time for anything else.

Considering the extra work caused by the weather, should the village board hire on-call, part-time help? asked Scott Gunnufson, village president, at the Colfax Village Board’s February 24 meeting.

Rand Bates, director of public works, said that on-call, part-time help would not be needed all of the time but would be particularly useful right now.

“This year it’s about killing us. Don (Logslett) has got pneumonia, and he was home today,” Bates said.

Randy Valaske, owner of Tainter Machine, has been using his portable welder to help village employees thaw the frozen water lines.

“We had to jet a sewer one night, so Randy Valaske stayed with (the equipment and the homeowner). He had no problem with that. But someone to help out a little bit would be good,” Bates said.

Before starting to thaw the frozen laterals, Bates said he takes the water meter off the house so “we don’t burn the house down.”

Valaske is willing to stay with the welder if Bates and Logslett need to do something else, but it is not Valaske’s responsibility to hook up the water meter again, Bates said.

“We need somebody that when I call, he can come back to put the meter in when it thaws out,” Bates said.

Last summer, Colfax employed Tom Moen and Jason Johnson as part-time help for the village.

Gunnufson wondered if either of them would be willing to work on an on-call basis.

“We might not need anybody, but I wish we’d had them the last two weeks, mostly for later in the evening. Randy (Valaske) has been a saint. We’ve left him quite a few times. He can’t take the welder off or it will freeze again. So he stays,” Bates said.

“It would nice to have a back-up too when someone is sick,” said Annie Schieber, village trustee.

The Colfax Village Board approved a motion for Bates to make an on-call employee list and to find out the availability of Johnson and Moen.

Village trustee Richard Johnson abstained from voting on the motion.

Gunnufson, Schieber, Susan Olson, Mark Halpin, Beverly Schauer and Mike Buchner voted in favor of the motion.