City Council discusses notice of planned electric outages

Posted November 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm

The Miller City Council held its first meeting of the month November 5.

Prior to agenda items, Mayor Ron Blachford asked for any public input. Council member Jim Odegaard reported that he had received several complaints from residents about a “planned” electric outage the afternoon of November 4, because they were not alerted that it would happen. Council member Tom Winsell and the mayor said they also had received several calls from frustrated residents. An earlier planned outage had also caught residents unaware, and they were unhappy about having no warning.

Although the Facebook Website had an announcement of the outage, it was agreed that not all residents have Facebook or if they do, they don’t check it on a regular basis.

Suggestions to ease the situation included placing signs on Main Street, and, if time permits, making an announcement in the newspaper.

The mayor said he would speak with Bill Lewellen, electric department head, and determine a better way to notify people of impending power outages.

Nehemia Volquardsen, Hand County emergency management, discussed the Hazard Mitigation Plan for the county. He reported that every five years, FEMA requires updated mitigation plans, which form the foundation for a community’s long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses, and also allows for preparedness grants. He asked the mayor to sign the agreement, and the council approved the request.

Arlen Gortmaker, with the Miller Fire Department, said firefighter classes would begin December 2. The three-month course will provide required training and techniques. A “smoke house” has been donated by the owner, which will be used for hands-on-training, and real fire and smoke will be dpart of the training. The first “fire” response will be held December 30.

Gortmaker said the department is in need of bunker gear—outer protective clothing. “We have a 40-member department, and the gear is old,” he stated. “The goal is to replace five sets a year, but the gear is expensive.” He said the department has been looking at possible grants available, as each set costs more than $1,000.

Mayor Blachford suggested tabling any decisions until the next meeting (November 19), and to have a fire department representative present at that meeting, to discuss needed gear, and possible methods of funding.

The mayor also asked if the firemen have walk-through exercises where chemicals are stored. Gortmaker said some have been held, but agreed such exercises should be held on a consistent basis.

A building permit was approved for North Central Farmers Elevator, for a pole shed and bulk chemical storage area.

The council approved issuing a certificate of appreciation to DC Herman acknowledging his 39 years as proprietor of Sommer’s Bar.

Council members approved payment of Pay Estimate #2 to Thompson Electric for electric meter cutover work, totaling $17,170.47 on the electric upgrade project, contingent on a signature of approval by Bill Lewellen.

Also approved was the final closeout of the grant received for the City of Miller water improvements project. Mayor Blachford signed a letter stating the City of Miller has accepted the work.

Police chief Shannon Speck reported the application deadline for a police officer position ended October 19. He requested and received permission to hire Jim Henson for the position, at a starting wage of $14.30 per hour. Speck said Henson would begin duties in about two weeks.

The next council meeting is scheduled for November 19 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.