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Author Topic: Crystal Sewer System Changes  (Read 27565 times)
srm
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« on: May 11, 2010, 08:05:57 AM »

All,
    Please note that the CLA does not take a position on this. This is a part of the CLAs effort to keep members informed.

   The Crystal sewer system will soon be taken over by Montcalm County Drain Commission. The Counties addition of Nevins and Derby Lake sewer system which is a part of the MCC/MACC system has prompted Don Cooper to have a study by a third party to see if its more cost effective to hire one certified sewer administrator for Crystal/Duck Lake, Whitefish, Nevins/Derby.  Don's feeling is that is might save Crystal money as Crystal could be the building and rent its equipment to the other districts. Funds cannot be co-mingled.

I've met with Don Cooper and explained my concern is that Crystal put forth the effort thirty years ago when it was cheaper to install and I don't want to see our rates go up due to other systems being combined with our system which now is more expensive in todays pricing. My other concern is Don will soon retire and I don't want to see a complex and difficult system put in place just before he jumps off the boat.

Attached is the letter from Drain Comm to Crystal Township.

Here is a link to Greenville Daily News
http://www.thedailynews.cc/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=11&ArticleID=34166
*Which reads*
5/10/2010 11:43:00 AM
JUST IN: Drain commissioner requests centralized DPW facility

Elisabeth Waldon
Staff Writer

STANTON - In the wake of the accidental death of Crystal Township's sewer administrator, the Montcalm County drain commissioner is looking to create a centralized Montcalm County Department of Public Works facility on county land and take control of several sewer districts.

Drain Commissioner Don Cooper appeared Monday before the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners Economic Development Committee to request county land acquisition for a central DPW facility. The committee unanimously voted to request the full board allow exploration of a centralized DPW to be built either on county land or other land.

Crystal Township Sewer Administrator Dan Eller died April 23 in an accidental explosion at the Crystal Wastewater Sewer Facility. The Crystal facility is owned by Montcalm County, but insured by Crystal Township, a fact District 2 Commissioner Tom Lindeman found troubling.

Cooper said the Crystal facility will have to be demolished and rebuilt for safety reasons. However, he wants to build a centralized DPW facility from which to administer Big Whitefish Lake and Little Whitefish Lake in Pierson Township, Derby Lake and Nevins Lake in Sidney Township and Crystal Lake and Duck Lake in Crystal Township.

For a complete story, see Tuesday's edition of The Daily News or check www.thedailynews.cc later.
*End Story*.

-srm
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Bonnie
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2010, 10:03:47 PM »

 Please note that the CLA does not take a position on this. This is a part of the CLAs effort to keep members informed.

At the township board meeting tonight, a briefing was given by the County Drain Commissioner, Don Cooper.  The county will take over the Crystal/Duck lake sewer systems.  Rates will go up  for Crystal probably with the July Qtr  -- it was mentioned 5.75/mo....  There is approximately 168 to 324 thousand dollars worth of upgrades & maintenance that need to be done on the Crystal system.  Each sewer system will stand on it's own for O&M costs and not be commingled with another sewer systems funds.  Therefore, Crystal monies will maintain Crystal's system, etc. 

Our Township Board is not in favor of consolidation of sewer systems into a County DPW but with the termination letter, have no choice.  Crystal Township is proud of their sewer operations and management, as it should be!
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Bonnie K
srm
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« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2010, 08:36:52 PM »

Please note that the CLA does not take a position on this. This is a part of the CLAs effort to keep members informed.

The link...
http://www.thedailynews.cc/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubsectionID=11&ArticleID=34242
Reads...
Cooper ending Crystal sewer contract

Jessica Dudenhofer
Staff Writer

CRYSTAL - What to do next?

That's the question Crystal Township Board members are trying to answer following the April 23 death of Crystal Township Sewer Administrator Dan Eller after an explosion at the Crystal Wastewater Sewer Facility.

Kevin Loomis, the only other full-time employee at Crystal's sewer facility, has been on call 24/7 since the accident, trying to keep the system running after the explosion heavily damaged the building.

"Things have been busy out there," Loomis said told the board during Wednesday's meeting. "We had a lot of power outages and the pumps going down."

The board thanked Loomis for stepping up to keep Crystal's sewers flowing.

"We're grateful for the extra effort you've given, taking work home," said Township Clerk Bob Naumann.

The board gave Loomis a raise of $1 an hour to compensate him for all his extra work.

However, the law requires a certified operator be hired to replace Eller at the sewer facility.

Loomis has been working on his certification, but he can't be certified until he's been with the facility for at least a year. His year anniversary is just beyond the annual 2010 testing in May, so Loomis won't have a chance to become a certified operator until May 2011.

For now, the government is giving the township a grace period to replace fill Eller's position with the constant supervision of Montcalm County Drain Commissioner Don Cooper.

Cooper is hoping to take over operation of the Crystal Township sewer system, relieving the township of its duties under a contract the township has had with Cooper's office since 1978.

Cooper is planning to centralize the Montcalm County Department of Public Works - operated by his office - to operate the Big Whitefish and Little Whitefish lakes' sewers in Pierson Township, proposed Derby and Nevins lakes' sewer in Sidney Township and Crystal and Duck lakes' sewer in Crystal Township.

That would mean Crystal Township would no longer operate the sewer system and wouldn't need to hire a replacement for Eller.

Township Supervisor Charlie Braman visited Cooper's office in Stanton on May 6 to discuss Cooper's plans to operate the Crystal sewer system. Braman told Deputy Drain Commissioner Sandy Raines during that meeting the township needed a letter of intent or the township board would begin the process of hiring a new sewer operator at Wednesday's meeting.

Cooper signed a letter on May 6 after Braman's visit indicating the operating agreement between his office and the township would be terminated 60 days from that date and Cooper's office would take over operation of the Crystal and Duck lakes' sewer. Only about 50 days remain until the termination date.

Crystal Township board members expressed frustration Wednesday about losing the control they have over the sewer system. Board members said they would have liked a meeting or discussion before they were served the agreement termination notice.

Braman said the Michigan Rural Water System, of which Crystal is a member, has free temporary certified operators that will work on the sewer, look over paperwork, sign papers and keep the system running until another certified operator can be hired.

Cooper told board members this was fine, but said the township needs to expect to have to raise rates in the very near future, regardless of who operates the sewer system.

He couldn't convince the board that a centralized DPW, with a liaison committee from each lake, is a good idea for Crystal. But board members realized they could do nothing to change the situation with the contract ending.

"I'm extremely disappointed that drain commissioners lost trust in us based on one conversation," Naumann said.

Cooper said Crystal officials need to broaden their focus for the good of lake sewer customers countywide.

"No matter where we end up with who's operating that system, we have a clear understanding of what needs to be done," Cooper said. "You're seeing what you think is best for Crystal. I'm looking for what is best for Montcalm County."


 



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srm
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2010, 07:46:11 AM »

Please note that the CLA does not take a position on this. This is a part of the CLAs effort to keep members informed.

The Link...
http://www.thedailynews.cc/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=11&ArticleID=34653

The Text...
Scope of centralized DPW questioned

6/15/2010 8:00:00 PM
Elisabeth Waldon
Staff Writer

STANTON - The chairman of the Board of Commissioners is worried the county's drain commissioner is "building the Taj Mahal of drain buildings."

Patrick Q. Carr voiced his concern Monday at the commissioners' Economic Development & Physical Resources Committee.

Drain Commissioner Don Cooper appeared before that committee May 10 to seek land for a centralized county Department of Public Works facility. The committee voted at that time to request the full board allow exploration of a centralized DPW to be built either on county land or other land.

Cooper is planning to centralize the DPW - operated by his office - to operate the Big Whitefish and Little Whitefish lake sewers in Pierson Township, Crystal and Duck lake sewers in Crystal Township and Derby and Nevins lake sewers in Sidney Township.

Several of the commissioners had questions about the planned centralized DPW facility Monday. Cooper was not present. County Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer said he will visit the drain commissioner's office Thursday to discuss more details.

"It looks like we had a drawing tossed on our desk that indicated the drain commissioner was building the Taj Mahal of drain buildings," Carr said. "This was the first I'd heard of it. The discussion I heard sounds like it's starting to slide into a lot bigger scope than we have any say in. Does he (Cooper) need the commissioners' blessing to enter into a full-blown DPW or doesn't he?"

Carr questioned what role the Board of Commissioners will play in creating the DPW facility and whether they or Cooper will be responsible for the final product.

"I don't want that coming back to bite us if we didn't have any say in it," Carr said. "I don't want to take the heat for it. I don't want it falling back in our lap at some point when we had nothing to do with the planning. I just don't want to be the fall guy for it."

Carr said he has a "recurring nightmare" that the DPW consolidation will one day lead to a Board of Commissioners meeting full of people who are angry they are being billed at 10 times their current sewer cost.

"I want to know what this monster is before it bites our head off," Carr said.

Other commissioners also expressed concern about the proposal.

"The one issue I have is with the amount of vacant space in the county at this time, we should also evaluate other empty buildings that are for sale rather than have the county build a new building," said District 2 Commissioner Tom Lindeman.

District 4 Commissioner John Johansen suggested expanding the DPW Board at some point in the future so Cooper is not the only person in charge. The board currently consists only of Cooper.

"I'm not sure that we have enough oversight," Johansen said.


 






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srm
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2010, 06:11:09 AM »

Please note that the CLA does not take a position on this. This is a part of the CLAs effort to keep members informed.

The Link...
http://www.thedailynews.cc/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=35390&SectionID=2&SubSectionID=232&S=1

The Text...
Crystal Township Board lashes out at drain commissioner

By Elisabeth Waldon
Gazette staff writer

CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP - Three months after the accidental death of Crystal Township's sewer administrator, the sewer district remains in turmoil.

Dan Eller was killed in an April 23 explosion at the Crystal Wastewater Sewer Facility. Eller's co-worker Kevin Loomis has been maintaining the district since the incident.

However, law requires a certified operator be hired. Loomis won't have a chance to become certified until May 2011.

In the meantime, Montcalm County Drain Commissioner Don Cooper has been supervising the township sewer district. He went one step further and signed a May 6 letter indicating the operating agreement in existence between his office and the township since 1978 would be terminated in 60 days and that he would take over operation of the sewer district.

The 60 days were up July 5, but the county has since granted an extension.

The Crystal Township Board recently created and unanimously approved a strongly-worded resolution addressed to the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners. The resolution accuses Cooper of making "statements and allegations which contained factual errors, were misleading and cast the Crystal Township Board in a grossly unfavorable light."

The resolution states that the township board "takes strenuous exception to many of the unfounded, unfair, inappropriate and misleading remarks" made by Cooper and "strongly objects to the unfair, unreasonable, unilateral and undemocratic method" used by Cooper.

The board is requesting that Cooper rescind his notice of termination letter.

The resolution also refers to statements Cooper made to the Board of Commissioners, including:

Allegations that the township board misappropriated sewer funds for road improvements.

That sewer equipment lost in the April 23 explosion was not properly insured; that the township board did not have appropriate sewer budgets or timely fiscal audits.

That the township board paid Eller - who was fired by the previous board - full back wages when the new board re-hired Eller to avoid a lawsuit.

The resolution denies each of Cooper's allegations, noting:

No proof has been presented regarding misappropriated sewer funds for road improvements.

Cooper is responsible for insuring sewer equipment.

The township board has ensured approved budgets and timely audits.

Eller was not paid any back wages and "such a statement by the drain commissioner is false and untrue and is a slanderous statement besmirching the good name of each member of the township board."

Crystal Township Board Trustee Jerry Stone attended a recent Board of Commissioners meeting to ensure the commissioners received the resolution.

"If there's any way the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners can intercede with the drain commissioner and leave the Crystal drain alone ... we would appreciate it," Stone said.

Cooper was not at that meeting, but he told The Gazette he is concerned about how the township has been maintaining the sewer district over the years.

"I think they need to be open and transparent on the actual costs of operation and maintenance," he said. "In the last three years we had subsidized from the reserve fund to balance on actual cost. At least one year's worth of the operating budget should be in the reserve fund."

With 27 grinder pumps that have to be replaced, he is concerned about having enough money on hand.

"Earlier estimates would pretty much completely deplete that reserve fund," he said.

Cooper added that a complete procedural manual is absent for maintaining the system.

"When we lost Dan, questions came up about pumps and service areas," he said. "There's no manual or notes as to who maintains pumps or where the service area is."

Cooper said he is continuing to work with the township board and is pleased with the progress so far.

"I'd like the township to have control of their own destiny, but there have been bumps in the road, not just with this township board but with other township boards," he said. "I'd be willing to turn the sewer district back over to the township to operate, but there's going to be some oversight by a committee. How that's going to be structured still needs to be determined."
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srm
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2010, 12:18:15 PM »

Please note that the CLA does not take a position on this. This is a part of the CLAs effort to keep members informed.

The Link...
http://www.thedailynews.cc/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=35709&SectionID=2&SubSectionID=11&S=1

The text...
8/27/2010 8:00:00 PM
'Handshake agreement' is allowing Crystal Township to operate sewer

Elisabeth Waldon
Staff Writer

CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP - A four-month-long sewer district saga may finally be coming to a close.

Montcalm County Drain Commissioner Don Cooper said he has a "handshake agreement" allowing Crystal Township to continue administrating and operating the Crystal Sanitary Sewer District while legal counsel drafts a long-term contractual agreement for the township to continue in that capacity.

Kevin Loomis has been maintaining the district since Sewer Administrator Dan Eller was killed in an April 23 explosion at the Crystal Wastewater Sewer Facility.

However, law requires a certified operator to be hired. Loomis won't have a chance to become certified until May 2011, so Chuck Klies of Michigan Rural Water Authority is serving as Crystal's certified operator.

In the meantime, Montcalm County Drain Commissioner Don Cooper has been supervising the sewer district. He signed a May 6 letter indicating the operating agreement between his office and the township since 1978 would be terminated in 60 days and that he would take over operation of the sewer district.

The 60 days expired July 5, but Cooper granted an extension of an undetermined amount of time. He is waiting for a draft contract that would allow Crystal Township to administrate and operate the sewer district as in years past, albeit with contract language providing some oversight.

The Crystal Sanitary Sewer District is organized under the Drain Code.

It is a separate entity from the township and is a designated county drain. The control of the sewer lies entirely with the Drain Board, which consists of Cooper as chairman, Montcalm County Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Q. Carr and Montcalm County Board of Commissioners Finance and Personnel Committee Chairman Roger Caris.

Legal counsel is drafting contract language to allow the township to take back control of the district. The Drain Board will meet to discuss the proposed contract after the language is reviewed.

As part of the revised contract, a Drain Board committee would feature two to four liaison representatives from Crystal Lake and Duck Lake to report at the annual Drain Board meeting.

"I'm happy with it," Cooper said of the draft language. "It provides continuity and oversight and I think it's exactly what's needed."

Crystal Township Supervisor Charlie Braman and Clerk Bob Naumann are hopeful, but cautious and puzzled about the outcome.

"I'm not real sure where things stand right now," Braman said. "Things have been changing from day to day and week to week, so I'm a little confused."

"It's confusing," Naumann agreed. "Hopefully it will all be resolved soon."

Crystal Township Trustee Jerry Stone Stone is not happy with the proceedings.

"I am disgusted with the months-long haggling that has gone on, mostly at the instigation of Mr. Cooper," he said. "I am hopeful that in the very near future the Crystal Township Board will be minding the sewer district business as it has successfully for the last 30 years."

The Crystal Township Board created a strongly-worded resolution addressed to the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners. The resolution accused Cooper of making "statements and allegations which contained factual errors, were misleading and cast the Crystal Township Board in a grossly unfavorable light."

The Board of Commissioners recognized the letter and placed it on file at Monday's regular meeting.

Follow Staff Writer Elisabeth Waldon via Twitter HERE.
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