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EM village board learns of alternative solutions for water system

ELK MOUND — One of the hot topics at last Wednesday’s Elk Mound village board meeting was a recent report on the community’s water systems and supply.

Public works director Mark Levra and public works and streets committee chairman Terry Stamm explained their concerns and some cost-effective solutions during the January 17 regular board meeting. The discussion followed the presentation on the water study in December, and a short conversation about how to proceed following the first January meeting.

Several trustees asked about the potential cost of the land offered by Lynn Harrison as a prospective site for a new reservoir after the January 3 meeting. The parcel is approximately 36 acres, and it was determined the land would be too costly to pursue purchase.

Public works director Mark Levra offered an alternative, though, after speaking with former director – and current trustee – Terry Stamm about the issue.

Stamm indicated the prior village engineer recommended nearly 10 years ago that if the parcel of land offered for sale by Harrison last year were to ever become available, it would make a prime place for a reservoir.

The water study was approved during the summer of 2017 after Harrison approached the village with the land. Stamm said the study was necessary to determine if the prior engineer was correct in saying the location would be good for the water system and reservoir.

In the end, there multiple other concerns in the water and sewer system that need attention, and Stamm indicated his support for just addressing those concerns at this time.

“As a committee, we’re recommending to not purchase that property at this time,” he said.

President Steven Abraham asked how much the land would actually cost, and was informed the cost for the land would be $180,000 for 36 acres. Stamm noted Levra reminded him there have been other locations for a potential reservoir, including the area south of Independence Drive.

“Prioritizing, we’ve got down here, construct a water line from the existing reservoir from the north down to Ivy Avenue,” Stamm said.

Abraham questioned if that would take priority before even putting in a new tank, and Levra informed him the storage capabilities of the village’s water supply is not great, but noted it has never been great.

“It’s not all of the sudden an emergency,” Levra said. “If we were to prioritize things, the first thing would be for this line to come down from our existing tank, getting rid of the issue of just one main line feeding the system.”

The public works director also went on to say if storage really became an issue, a tank could be put adjacent to the current one and tied into the newer line.

The plan offers a cost-effective solution, considering the village already owns the land surrounding the current reservoir tank on North Holly Avenue. Levra indicated the main line would cost $125,520, and a new tank would be $260,000 and labor.

That is a far cry from the proposed $1.9 million in changes listed in the Cedar Corporation’s water study.

The plan would take some negotiating with the district because the work would require an easement, but Levra seemed confident the project would be a good solution to the proposed changes.

Other business

Barring any negative results from a drug screen and physical and psychological assessment, the village of Elk Mound may soon have a new police chief.

The village trustees and president unanimously approved extending a conditional offer of employment to Chad Weinberger during the January 17 regular meeting. The vote means the village may soon have a full-time law enforcement presence after former, part-time chief Travis Hakes stepped away from the position last April.

Prior to voting to make the conditional offer to Weinberger, the board approved Campion Barrow and Associates, an assessment agency with offices in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, as the provider for all three assessments.

While the drug screen and physical assessment are covered under the current police department budget, there was no approved line item for the psychological screen. Interim police chief Mike Tietz informed the board part of the motion to approve Campion Barrow’s handling of all three assessments would be a vote to spend an extra $525 to include the psych assessment.

There was no further information provided during the meeting regarding when Weinberger might start, or what his pay and benefits will include should he accept the offer.

The board also:

• Approved operator licenses for Connie Linberg (the Junction) and Kayla Farrell (Elk Mound Travel Stop).

• Approved the public works department’s winter snow removal policy.

• Discussed and approved the purchase of a 2520 John Deere broom sweeper attachment for $3,572.00 after a municipal discount is applied.