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Menno City Council continues review of summer sewer, water projects

Hutchinson Herald of Menno, South Dakota

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The Menno City Council last week continued discussion on various ongoing infrastructure projects, including the sanitary sewer system upgrades, a street rebuilding project and the repair and refurbishment of the municipal water tower.

Sewer, street, water

The council awarded the bid for the second phase of the sanitary sewer project, which will involve repairing sections of sewer pipe by installing a special liner throughout the lines, sealing any cracks that may have formed over the years. The bid went to H&W Contracting of Sioux Falls for a total cost of $898,690.50.

The council was unable to award the bid at its June 29 special meeting because the project had not yet received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Vern Arens, who does engineering work for the city of Menno, said he estimated the project could get underway in August."Everything should be ready to go by then," Arens said.

The council also learned that city workers had discovered a problem with the sewer system beneath Fifth Street. Workers discovered a hole in a main line when videoing another sewer line for Menno Food Market. The hole is allowing material surrounding it to collapse into the sewer.

Roger Heckenlaible, an employee for the city, said the line will have to be dug up at some point."We have a monster void. Obviously, we have to dig," Heckenlaible said.

The council decided to look closer at the problem during the upcoming construction project unless the hole becomes a more serious problem before then.

The city also did not receive proper approval to proceed with the Poplar Street rebuilding project at the June 29 meeting. The South Dakota Department of Transportation requested some items in the plan for the project to be changed."It's a frustrating deal, but we've been working with them on it," Arens said.

The council approved moving forward with advertising for bids again and to open and award those bids at a special meeting of the Menno City Council Monday, July 20.

Plans to repair and refurbish the municipal water tower were expected to begin this week, according to Darrell Mehlhaf, mayor of Menno. Plans for that project have called for properly sealing the tank with an epoxy compound, something that will take a few days to complete.

While the repair process continues, the city will be without use of the water tower. Menno residents will still have access to water through the system, but the council made plans to supplement the water supply in the event of a fire or other emergency while the tower was unavailable.

The original plan was to use a large water bladder borrowed from South Dakota Rural Water Systems for local fire trucks to draw from in case of emergency, but members of the council discovered the bladder would likely not be up to the task. Instead, the council will look at possibly using storage tanks at Mettler Fertilizer as a backup during the tower repair period."It will take about 10 days (to complete) the whole water tower project," Mehlhaf said. "It depends on how fast (the epoxy) cures."


Ruth Bagley appeared before the Menno City Council to request a variance for a fence she recently had erected on her property. Bagley had put up the fence, which is constructed of sheet metal, being unaware of an ordinance that prohibits that particular material from being used as fencing.

Bagley contended the fence matches materials used in the construction of her house and that it actually complements the appearance of the building."I'd like to keep that fence. I didn't do it to be unsightly," Bagley said.

While members of the city council didn't condemn the appearance of the fence itself, the option of granting a variance could set a precedent that would defeat the purpose of the ordinance."When you grant a variance you're opening up to scrutiny," Mehlhaf said. "It can cause a problem down the line by precedent-setting."

Bagley said she understood the situation but had hoped for a variance, noting it was costly to put up the fence and it will be costly to take it back down.

George Cokens, a member of the Menno City Council, said setting a precedent could come back to hurt the city in the future."My only concern is everyone asking for a variance," Cokens said.

The council took a 10-minute recess so members of the council could examine the fence in person. Upon reconvening, members of the council stated they would like time to think on the situation before making a decision.

Mehlhaf agreed that that was a reasonable approach. Variances should be granted so that it benefits both the city and interested parties."You have to give a reason for giving the variance, you can't just give it," Mehlhaf said. "That's the difficult part of giving a variance. You have to give a reason."

Restricted use site hours

The Menno City Council agreed to expand the summer hours for the municipal restricted use site to better accommodate residents who work during the day.

The council changed the Wednesday hours for the site to being open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday hours for the site will remain as 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sale barn culvert

The council discussed the relationship between Menno Livestock Auction and the city of Menno and the responsibilities each has to the other.

Mehlhaf noted the lease between the business and city is for 25 years and comes up for renewal in 2021. Among the conditions of the lease is for Menno Livestock Auction to allow part of the parking lot to be used for people attending games at the Menno Baseball Field and that the city help with maintenance of the parking lot.

The council agreed to pay half the cost of four loads of gravel and half the cost of a 12-inch culvert for the west-side driveway. The city will also blade and maintain the road on a regular basis.

Other business

Also last week, the council:

Approved the purchase of a plaque to be dedicated at the Menno City Park bathhouse Funds from a Northwestern Energy donation following the death of Gail Guthmiller in a house explosion were the impetus behind the building of the new bath house, which will honor the memory of Guthmiller Approved purchasing a new refrigerator for the Menno Fire Hall and taking the current refrigerator from the fire hall to the Menno Swimming Pool, whose refrigerator has stopped working twice this summer.

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Original Publication Date: July 16, 2015

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