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Mayor gets push-back on plant claims

 


Coulee Dam residents will get an update on the proposed wastewater treatment plant project at a public meeting, Wednesday, Feb. 24, starting at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

In a letter to the editor in today’s Star newspaper, Mayor Greg Wilder stated that the town has “virtually completed the environmental processes and approved the engineering contracts.”

He went on to write, “Rural Development, our funding agency, has now approved the engineering contract, and we expect funding in the form of a grant/loan package within a month or so.”

The question of whether the council had approved the design of the new wastewater treatment plant came up at the town council’s last meeting, Feb. 10. The mayor had stated that the design had been approved, but two councilmembers, Keith St. Jeor and Ben Alling, both questioned this, saying the design hadn’t been approved by the council.

The discussion that followed started to get heated, with St. Jeor countering comments by council members David Schmidt and Gayle Swagerty, who said they were willing to go along with the experts on the matter.

It prompted St. Jeor to state that he had some engineering experience and wasn’t satisfied about the design question.

Later, and at the end of the meeting, wastewater treatment plant Manager Tim Lynch told council members that he would be happy to give them a tour of the plant anytime they could come down.

This didn’t sit well with the mayor, who argued after the meeting with Lynch about his offer.

The following day, Mayor Wilder circulated a letter to all the council and staff that he was concerned that at least three members of the council might go to the plant at the same time, causing a breach of the state’s Open Public Meeting Act. That law establishes that if three of the five-member council shows up at the same event regarding the town’s business, it creates a quorum and a “special meeting,” which is legal only if all council members and the news media has been given 24 hours written notice.

In his letter to the editor, Wilder acknowledges that the design and engineering need to be finished and that this could take another six to nine months. He also states, “We need to actually build our new, efficient, and environmentally-compliant plant, which will take another 12-18 months.”

Town residents will get an update and get their questions answered at the Feb. 24 meeting.

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