By NIKKI YOUNK
QUINNESEC - Even though high temperatures on Monday reached into the 50s, freezing water lines continue to be a problem in Breitung Township.
Members of the Breitung Township Board of Trustees learned during their Monday meeting that there have been 90 incidents of water mains or private water lines freezing this winter.
Township Superintendent Joe Rogina pointed out that one recent freeze involved the 10-inch water main that feeds the fire line to the Gunville warehouses.
Thawing all of these lines, which includes evening and weekend work, has put a strain on Breitung Township's Department of Public Works (DPW).
"It's a seven-day-a-week project to keep water running for our customers in Quinnesec and East Kingsford," noted Township Supervisor Denny Olson. "Our DPW guys should be commended."
Olson said that the township's personnel committee recommended that the DPW hire a temporary, part-time employee to help out with the increased work load. Budget amendments may be necessary, but the township has been looking at hiring a new permanent DPW worker, he added.
Board members felt that 'time is of the essence,' and that the township should hire a temporary employee right away.
The temporary position would pay $15 per hour with no benefits except those required by law.
With a motion by Trustee John Gaudette, the board unanimously approved to authorize Rogina and the DPW superintendent to conduct interviews and hire a temporary, part-time employee.
On a related note, the board discussed the pros and cons of issuing a township-wide "let run" order. Currently, only residents whose water lines have already froze once this winter are on a let run order.
Olson stated that it is expensive to keep thawing out water lines. However, Rogina explained that a let run order would overtax the system.
Also, since township residents would have to let their water run from an outside faucet, the excess water could cause icing problems on the streets and sidewalks.
The board ultimately decided that a township-wide let run order would not be feasible.
In other business, the board:
- Agreed to waive late fees for unpaid balances of less than $1.
The township refuse committee recently learned that several residents wrote checks for their refuse bills in the amount of $36 instead of the billed amount of $36.90. Rogina felt that this action was an honest mistake.
The unpaid 90 cents will carry over to the residents' next bills without the $5 late fee or monthly interest.
- Approved to either revive or establish a revolving loan fund (RLF) to help finance the upcoming water system improvements in East Kingsford. Gaudette explained that the township needs to make sure documents for the old RLF are still up-to-date. If not, the board may have to pass some resolutions and hold public hearings.
The board will first contact the township attorney for guidance.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.