Westphalia aldermen at their Nov. 30 meeting approved approximately $7,500 in repairs for eight manholes that are a part of the city’s sewer system. Alderman Delbert Wieberg has been working to …
Westphalia aldermen at their Nov. 30 meeting approved approximately $7,500 in repairs for eight manholes that are a part of the city’s sewer system. Alderman Delbert Wieberg has been working to find the possible leaks and problems that were identified during the smoke testing last fall. Michael Mueller Bobcat Service of Lohman looked at the manholes with Wieberg and offered the quote. The work will involve unearthing and lifting manholes that have been buried, removing the cast iron pieces, and resealing and removing tree roots.
Wieberg warned that he has only been working on the manholes on one side of Hwy. 63 and that as soon as these items are fixed, he will be looking for more areas of concern.
“The thing is, we can’t let our utilities get totally out of hand,” Wieberg said. “We need to fix them.”
Mayor Tammy Massman agreed, noting that the sewer account could easily absorb the repairs over the next two months.
Michael Mueller Bobcat Service believed that the repairs could be completed by the end of January with good weather and the city will be invoiced monthly until the repairs are done.
Aldermen also approved Michael Mueller Bobcat Service to clean out the ditch on Linn Street, with payment to come from the Special Road District Fund.
“We talked about putting concrete block down there but someone might drive off that and then we’ll have to put a guard rail up,” Wieberg said. “It’s a ditch, we just need to maintain it and clean it out.”
Massman thanked Wieberg on behalf of the city for all his work.
In other business with the sewer system, the city is still looking for someone to fill the operator position. Massman noted that she had two different proprietors scheduled for a site visit of the plant this week. There is a statewide shortage of sewer system operators which has complicated the search.
“There is a lot of interest but we need certified operators,” Massman said. “There is definitely an employment opportunity there.”
Aldermen hope that whoever takes over as the new sewer system operator can also absorb some of the daily testing that is currently done by city employees Richard Nilges and Randy Nilges who are wanting to retire early in the new year.
Massman has followed up with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the city has all the permits and testing in place to have sludge hauled and land-applied. Wieberg will assist in setting up a company to take care of this. Wieberg believes they should be able to land apply sludge by the end of the week to take advantage of the favorable weather.
In other business, aldermen approved moving forward to develop a city website that will be named cityofwestphaliamo.org. The cost for a city website hosted by Hostgator would cost the city about $130 per year, initially based less on promotional pricing and more dependent on how many years the city would like to operate the site. Community members Nicki Bax, Chris Hellen, and Jake Plassmeyer volunteered to help with the initial setup.
Wieberg noted that he thought that the website would have been more expensive.
“The expensive part is if you have to pay someone to develop it and maintain it,” Bax said. “Having a site on the internet is cheap.”
“Who is going to do that for us?” Wieberg asked.
“That is, in essence, our committee members right now,” Massman explained. “I’ve talked to them about a voluntary basis and if it becomes cumbersome, the city will have to pay for that service just like we do for any other contractual service. We’ve kinda met informally and talked about the project and generated some ideas.”
Massman noted that they would like everyone’s involvement on what to include on the website. Committee members and aldermen would have to consider if they were comfortable with their contact information being placed on the city’s website or if the contact should still be through the city’s email. Massman wanted to make sure that recently discussed items, including the zoning ordinances, the new zoning map, business licenses, and variance applications are included on the website, along with the major ordinances.
As the website develops historical information could be included along with links to other Westphalia organizations and a photo gallery.
“I think that is a pretty good start,” Alderman Stanley Heckman said.
“I am so grateful that people have been willing to step up and help,” Massman said. “It’s more than one person can do. This (a city website) has been lacking, I agree and this is a great approach.”
Massman noted that the city has also set up a new email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Several property owners in Church View Estates attended the meeting and asked aldermen what they would need to do to get the city to take over the road.
“We’re looking at working on our road a bit and we are hoping to get some guidelines on what it would take to get that road taken over by the city,” Property Owner Chris Hillen said.
Massman noted she thought there was an agreement made when the property was first developed that stipulated the responsibilities of the developer and the city but she wasn’t sure of all the details.
“We would really have to go back to what those deciding parameters were but I know that the only way the city would consider taking over the maintenance was contingent on whether or not all of the lots were sold and it had to have established curb and guttering and some type of hard surface,” she explained. “It is sticking with me that the hiccup has been that there is still a lot owned by the developer and that they have not wanted to put forth the dollars to invest to put in curb and guttering.”
Chassidy Locker and her family live in the Church View Estates Subdivision and are frustrated with developer Shirley Dudenhoeffer-Luebbering, who was not in attendance at the meeting.
“She doesn’t even attempt to sell (the vacant lot),” Locker explained. “She’s just sitting on it. She doesn’t maintain it either. Me and my husband maintain it.”
Therese Patterson, who has been organizing the homeowner’s association (HOA) for the subdivision, said that the developer does not even contribute to the HOA.
“We’re trying to move forward but we don’t know what the conditions are to move forward,” Patterson explained. “I understand we are not going to get the developer’s permission or (her) to contribute to the cause.”
Wieberg noted that putting curb and guttering and a hard surface on the road would be expensive and would also require engineering reports. The area is in the floodplain and would require additional permits and permission from other government entities, including DNR and Federal Emergency Management (FEMA).
Massman agreed to work with City Clerk Kerry Bax and find the details as to how the road was to be incorporated into the city and pass on that information to the HOA.
“I’ll get those details and that information to you so that you can come up with the dollars it would even take to implement,” Massman said. “Then we can look to see if there is any way to get around the developer.”
* Election filing began on Dec. 7 and ends on Dec. 28. Anyone interested in running for aldermen is asked to contact the city.
* Westphalia is again looking for bids to remove snow from city streets this winter. Massman noted that the city rarely receives bids and she planned on reaching out to Jaegers Lawn Care of Loose Creek and see if they would be willing to remove the snow from the city streets again this year. Last year, Jaeger’s Lawn Care charged an hourly rate and utilized the city’s equipment and supplies.
Massman will also order more salt to be delivered.
* Aldermen tabled a request for a variance from the Pegasus Land Company after there were concerns raised in the public hearing about how it would affect adjoining properties. Pegasus Land Company will reconsider its proposal and can resubmit a variance request at any time.
* Expenses were approved as follows: city fund ($2,899.53), sewer system ($8,850.53), and special road district ($60,996.98).
* Westphalia had the following receipts for the month: city ($7,844.83), sewer ($9,003.49), and special road district ($676.20).
* The city had the following account balances: city checking ($171,585.70), sewer system checking ($29,511.75), special road district checking ($24,614.53), and special road district savings ($5,110.60).
* Westphalia holds the following certificates of deposit: city ($438,177.59), sewer system ($520,307.41), and special road district ($521,320.99).
* The next meeting will be on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m.