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TRW plant closing almost a reality


Fri, Oct 27th, 2006
Posted in Government

The Rushford City Council turned their attention to the looming TRW closing at their regular October 23 council meeting. The official WARN notice was received a week earlier from TRW. In the legally required letter, TRW notified the city that layoffs would be beginning December 8 and continue through August 2007 with an anticipated total layoff of 164 employees. Until this time, early layoffs have been on a voluntary basis. Employees have been tested and will be meeting with dislocated counseling specialists to begin planning for their future employment opportunities.

City Administrator Windy Block optimistically reported negotiations were continuing between PlastiComp and TRW for the east building. Block asked the council to think about what role they felt the city should have at this time. With the east building costing $825,000 and the main building priced at $1 million plus, the council needs to decide if they will commit to ownership of the buildings or just promote the sale. Block asked, "Do you want public or private sector financing," noting that DEED advised against city ownership of the buildings. Block urged the council to develop a philosophy of what they consider important, suggesting that jobs and private ownership might rank high on the list.

Gil Gutknecht and Greg Davids, visiting the city last week, told Block they were writing a letter trying to influence the ongoing negotiations for the building. Help from DEED will likely come in the form of people skills; not financing as some had hoped.

Mayor Les Ladewig, in response to Block's question of what the city would contribute stated, "We are willing to give a dedicated workforce." He noted many employees had worked at the plant for over thirty years and had earned a "well-deserved reputation" for hard work.

Block agreed, mentioning that just last week a company considering coming to Rushford had mentioned the existing workforce as a major selling point of the city.

Sewer

With the recent approval of the sewer rate change by Rushford Village setting a positive tone, the village and city are working to amend the current sewer agreement to provide a sound contract that could continue indefinitely. This would replace the ambiguous agreement slated to expire in eight years. Block commented, "The business relationship is back on track."

Block went on to say the weekly testing of sewage coming from South Rushford is being done in a positive way; the city of Rushford is paying for the $48.95 test done by Davy Laboratory of LaCrosse each week in an attempt to discover the problem and resolve it. He noted, however that if changes weren't made, the result could be penalties in the future.

Originally, the sewer agreement stipulated the village was to monitor the sewage. Equipment was not installed and monitoring has not been done the past twelve years. With the sewage failing BOD (biochemical (biological) oxygen demand) and TSS (total suspended solids) tests three out of the past six weeks, the city is strongly motivated to find the problem. Currently, sewage must sometimes be run through the entire process at the sewage plant a second time. Increases in the gallons per day of sewage coming from South Rushford correlate with failures in the testing. Possible causes of the increases in BOD and TSS may be antifreeze or fertilizer dumping.

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