Norway to replace mine pump

NORWAY — Norway will replace an aging mine shaft pump that prevents water from flooding into basements in the northern part of the downtown area and regulates water levels on Strawberry Lake, Lake Mary and Lake View. 

The city council agreed Monday to pay $33,000 to Kleiman Pump and Well Drilling of Iron Mountain for work on the Aragon Mine shaft pump near Eleventh Avenue. The project should be completed in the next four to six weeks, with council members stressing it needed to be done before spring weather sets in. 

A backup pump will run while the main one is being replaced, City Manager Ray Anderson said. 

Kleiman workers already have removed the 26-year-old pump and found that acidic water in the shaft, as well as dirt from storm sewer water, contributed to a half-inch hole and wear and tear on the unit that decreased efficiency, Erik Kleiman told the council.

He recommended a brand-new pump, hardware, motor and variable frequency drive. A repair job would be costly and require more lead time, he added.

Kleiman estimated the new pump would last about as long as the old one had.

In other business, the council:

— Took no action on a requested change order for an extra $90,274 for upgrades at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. 

Mayor Candy Brew questioned why the work, which mostly consisted of concrete repair on tanks, was done before the change order was brought to the council for approval.

This is the second costly change order, council member Scott Popp noted, after one for $172,000 to move a building location that was in the wrong spot under some power lines. Even though the entire project has a budget of more than $5 million funded through U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development grants and loans, Popp said “every thousand dollars adds up.”

The concrete work had been set up as a unit price job, project engineer Bruce Hawkinson of Mead & Hunt explained. Workers couldn’t stop and wait every two weeks for the council to meet and approve, he said.

Popp said there were too many things that needed to be straightened out before he could approve the change order.

— Approved the standard monthly pay request for the water and sewer upgrade project, which this month only consisted of $66,883 for the wastewater treatment plant portion. Popp and council member Bret Kraemer were opposed.

— Agreed to pay $2,236 to Visual Click Software for Federal Bureau of Investigation-required computer network audit software for the city’s police department. Council member Lee Meneghini was opposed, saying the city shouldn’t have to pay for something that is FBI-mandated.

— Heard a presentation by WPPI Energy Executive Director Mike Peter. Norway is among 51 member utilities that receive power from WPPI. The combination of Norway’s Sturgeon Falls Hydroelectric Facility with WPPI’s planned wind farm in northern Illinois and solar plant in Two Rivers, Wis., will make the city a leading utility in renewable energy, Peter said.

— Heard public comment from residents looking for solutions on how to clear snow from city sidewalks so people don’t have to walk in the streets. 

The council could enact an ordinance requiring home and business owners to shovel snow from their sidewalks within a certain timeframe after a snowstorm, Anderson suggested. But council member Jeremy Oja said he wouldn’t support such an ordinance, due to the hardship it would place on elderly and disabled people.

City workers could try to do more with the sidewalk plow machine but might not have the manpower or time, Anderson said.

Popp suggested looking at policies or ordinances in neighboring towns such as Kingsford or Iron River for ideas.