The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Water Department Issues Continue To Plague La Harpe City Council

-by Deb Olson, The Quill

During the La Harpe City Council meeting Monday night, which was held back in the La Harpe Community building, the first water issue arose during City employee Tim Graves, water department report.

Graves requested permission to purchase a flow switch and two large meters. Both purchases were approved, however at this point Graves reported that a new customer Wayne Corzatt had requested a new water line be connected.

This resulted in a back and forth confrontation between Kienast and Graves.

Graves had been informed by the mayor that he was not to hook up the water line, citing a conversation with David Cook at the EPA, due to the haloacetic acid problem.

Graves countered that he too had spoken with Cook of the EPA and had received permission to install the line.

Kienast replied, "I called Dave Cook twice and he said it couldn't be done."

Graves disputed the idea that the line should not be installed. He cited Cook as responding that while a new water main could not be extended the water service line could.

In the end the council approved the water service installation subject to written IEPA approval.

Water issues spilled over to the "Public Comments" section of the meeting as La Harpe resident Dave Clover questioned the necessity for returning water payment stubs to the city and also questioned the newly passed $150 water deposit charge.

Clover tied his idea of refusing to allow the sale of city property to water issues by saying if the city needed money it should collect all delinquent water bills, referring especially to the $1,800 that Clover alleges Kienast still owes.

In addition Clover cited what he sees as further lack of financial responsibility on the city's part in payments to the new city attorney.

Clover noted that new attorney Diane Diestler has, in just 2 months, been paid $6,000 when the previous attorney had been compensated just $3000 over the course of 1 full year.

After Clover spoke a surprise guest came forward to speak. John Kraft of the Edgar County Watchdogs, a group with the mission to root out misconduct in state and local government, rose to speak.

Kraft said he has requested a review by the Illinois Attorney General of a violation of the open meeting law at a September 26 council meeting.

City Clerk Lucretia McPeak has been instructed to provide copies of the agenda, minutes from both the open and closed sessions of the meeting and a verbatim recording of the closed session.

After making his comments, Kraft left the meeting.

Another guest at the meeting, Megan Crook of McClure Engineering in Macomb addressed the meeting regarding the opening of bids on the CDAP project.

She noted that while five bids were received and Laverdiere had the lowest bid, the project came in over budget.

By cutting back the project by 6 blocks $200,000 was saved.

Crook suggested that the council vote to award the full project amount and then issue a change order to scale back the project.

An additional expenditure by the city of $42,000 will be needed to complete the project.

After much discussion and questions from those present the board approved the following motion:

Accepted the Laverdiere bid, including the allocation of an additional $42,000 toward the initial match of $150,000, return the notice of award to McClure and authorize the mayor to sign any and all contract-related documents.

In addition, the board approved the opening of a non-interest bearing account as required by the project grant.

Kenny Foster informed the council that either he or Max Owsley needs to attend the October 27th ESDA meeting to be held in Carthage. Attendance at the meeting makes the city eligible for mitigation grants in the future.

In other business the La Harpe City Council :

Terry Pope with HCEDE did not attend the meeting as listed on the agenda.

The meeting finally adjourned at 11:15 p.m.