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Peterson continues community improvement

Fri, Jan 22nd, 2010
Posted in Progress Edition

With LGA cuts looming large on nearly every small municipality, the city of Peterson recognizes the tasks lying before it. As a city with a population of under 500, and state and district leadership being able to offer little assistance, the city could easily have stood still, waiting on an answer. Instead, it plodded on.

Tackling the progression on a long-standing wastewater treatment project, the city sought information on grant and loan information early on. US Department of Agriculture representative Jennifer Sass and WHKS engineer Kevin Graves directed the council through both past project items and those still needing to be addressed.

The preliminary design for the facility, completed in 2008, was altered somewhat through the course of the year, with the city council removing a portion of the design in an effort to save costs. The savings for removing the grit system, which is not required by either the Pollution Control Agency or the US Department of Agriculture, saved the city approximately $100,000. Still, the city will be required to purchase bonds for the remainder of the project, with the exception of any grant funds.

Mike Bubany of David Downs & Associates further informed the city on the need for bonds showing that the USDA will make grant funds available only after the project is complete. The money from bonds will be of low interest and provide the city with the needed finances until USDA funds are received.

In other cost-sharing efforts, the city was "pressured" to join with other municipalities in the project. However, this type of venture would cost the city as much or more than the current plant plans. In addition, the time frame for such a project simply wasn't feasible. Should costs overrun, subsequent loans may be used, but there are no grants for such an event.

Prior to fall of last year, the city began hammering out bid details. Without having to take the lowest bidder, the city sought a responsive bidder with all documents and requirements met. Engineers from WHKS formatted a scoring of bids with final recommendation in favor of Ashbrook Simon-Hartley Operations of Houston, Texas.

Unfortunately, the bid process was delayed due to the decision by the Pollution Control Agency to review and act first on projects that are receiving federal stimulus funds, even though the loan agreement, grant, and the sewer design were complete.

Near the end of the year, the city had nearly acquired all needed permits. The project timeline was slated for December 9th, following approval of operational and construction permits. Bid letting began as of January 5th.

In other expansion plans, the city worked with southeastern consultants for a housing grant. While the city has been put with two other municipalities in hopes of a $350,000 grant, it would result in three new homes in Peterson. It is currently working with SEMCAC in hopes of being selected for the Small Cities Development Grant.

Likely one of the biggest news worthy events for Peterson came as a result of Mayor Dick Lee's resignation in September. Lee had served the city for over 12 terms or the equivalent of 25 years, beginning his service to citizens in 1984. It was noted in a resolution passed by the city that Lee had made a vast difference to the community through actively pursuing economic and development efforts. In addition, Lee was proactive regarding parks and campground upkeep, road, street, and bridge projects, as well as taking an active role in the wastewater issue.

Councilor Chuck Eidenschenk was sworn in as new mayor and Bill Grindland was nominated to fill the empty council seat.

Regardless of state funding issues and the task of maintaining and growing a small community in tough economic times, the city of Peterson seems more than up to the task. No doubt others in the county will be watching to see what develops in 2010.

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