By CHARITY SMITH firstname.lastname@example.org
RAMSAY – The Bessemer Township board of trustees voted to proceed with a plan to replace lead and galvanized water service lines at its regular meeting on Monday. The plan, which will cost the city $15,000, is a necessary first step towards getting grant monies through the Michigan Department of Envorment Great Lakes and Energy.
The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program offers grants for this work and cities across the state are applying, according to Darren Poink, project manager for C2AE, an Escanaba engineering firm. He explained to the board how the DWSRF program works, and warned there is no guarantee that the township will get approval. However, he said because the township is a disadvantaged community, it does have a good chance. Poink said that of the $102 million available, $52 million has been delegated for disadvantaged communities. “Unfortunately, to pursue it you have to put in a project plan,” Poink said. “(C2AE) is putting project plans together for Bessemer, Onaway, Escanaba, Gladstone, St. Ignace. They’re all similar. They are all going after the funding for lead service line replacements.” He said it is “unfortunate” because it is a lot of money, but the plan will probably be well over 100 pages. The plan will include system user demographics, the conditions of the existing distribution system, the needs and improvements of the system, proposed alternative solutions, the beneficial cost effective solution, and the project costs. Bessemer Township’s plan is expected to be received by May to allow for a public hearing and then be submitted to EGLE by June 30, according to a letter Pionk sent the township.
In other action, the board approved a request by Utility Clerk Kristy Dums to change her public hours to 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. She said she will continue to do work hours as needed that are not open to the public. Hope Tarnaski, township treasurer, spoke highly of Dums and pointed out that the township has spent a lot of money and time in training her. She said that Dums, who has been with the township since December, has proven to be a “stellar” employee and with a good work ethic and accuracy. “Most (customers) who work will find this to be fantastic,” Tarnaski said of the new hours.
The board also: –Authorized the Fourth of July Committee to move forward with plans for this year’s event. –Discussed the budget for the 2022 fiscal year. –Announced the annual meeting will take place in person on Monday, March 22.