Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

GRWA appoints board officers


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Ramsay - The Gogebic Range Water Authority welcomed new members, elected board officers and formed the executive committee for 2020 at its meeting Thursday.

Three new members were present including Dale White and Dan Brown, at-large members for the city of Wakefield, and Jim Spencer, the at-large member for Wakefield Township.

The board approved 8-0 the election of officers. Members Neal Nelson, Adam Zak and James Simmons were not present.

The board re-elected Walt Rickard as chair; elected Dale White to replace Bernie Brunello as vice chair; re-elected Beverly Ikola as treasurer, and elected Jerry Niemi as secretary to replace Tom Mackin, who is no longer on the board.

Rickard told the board he has served as chair for 18 of his 20 years with the water authority. He said it felt good to realize the accomplishment of 20 years of water line upgrade projects that will all be closed out by the end of this year.

Rickard then appointed the executive committee to include himself, Doug Olsen and Adam Zak to replace John Granato, who is no longer on the board.

Zak is valuable to the executive committee as the mayor of Bessemer and for being closely involved with many of the water authority projects there and with Snow Country Contracting, Rickard said.

G. Jean Verbos, water authority administrator and licensed water operator, said she recommended Zak for those reasons. She also recommended Rickard and Olsen because they have strong experience negotiating with municipalities, unions and school districts, she said.

Verbos said she is working with municipalities to ensure their local governments appoint alternate members to the water authority in their January meetings and present the lists. The water authority by-laws require the alternates be provided as official actions of those cities and towns, she said.

In her report, Verbos said the second round of water quality sampling showed that all levels tested under required action levels. The next project will be to create a material list for the water services, she said.

Verbos said she is working in details to help the water authority avoid potential costs associated with requirements that cities and municipal water systems must remove lead or galvanized water lines, including from the curb to the home, when it tests positive for having been in contact with lead. The water authority has until 2025 to replace substandard lines, she said.

Verbos is working with municipalities on drafting a temporary easement that will expire work is completed on a residential property and the ground is covered. Without a temporary easement the water authority could be responsible for the easement in perpetuity, she said.

Verbos said the Blackjack Road pump station will have a temporary generator placement to avoid water outages should a power blackout shut off the primary generator. The long term solution will be to purchase a standby generator that automatically starts with a power outage.

The board postponed the financial audit presentation until January. The representative from the accounting firm was unable to attend because of weather and road conditions in Houghton.

The board approved the addition of the $4,000 audit cost to monthly bills.

The November water sales totaled $32,932, to include $6,219 from Bessemer Township - Ramsay and Anvil; $2,181 from Bessemer Township - Puritan and West U.S. 2; $4,388 from Ironwood Township; $1,414 from Walmart, and $18,729 from the city of Bessemer Utility.

The next regular meeting of the water authority will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 at the Bessemer Township Hall in Ramsay. The water authority will meet the second Thursday of the month for the rest of the year.