by Kathy Crawford
The Tracy Board of Aldermen is gambling that a couple of contingencies come together to help them fix their water tower woes.
If a new contractor, Hans Newsom, accepts the terms of the city’s contract, and if homebuilder Dudley Alexander agrees to develop in Tracy once the city gets its zoning ordinances in order, then Tracy just might be able to stay out of trouble with the Department of Natural Resources.
“I have gotten a letter from the Department of Natural Resources stating the city of Tracy is currently out of compliance with several of Missouri Safe Drinking Water regulations,” said Brenda Ferguson, mayor, at the regular board meeting last week.
She said the letter states that the city must hire a permanent certified operator by Dec. 31, 2007, and have a backup person in place in case of emergencies. Tracy has not had a water superintendent of record since this summer.
“He resigned the end of June (2007),” said Ferguson, referring to John Reddis. But Reddis stopped working on the water tower long before that.
“The repairs that were originally contracted for were not completed,” said Lisa Rehard, the city’s attorney.
Enter Hans Newsom, who works full time for the city of Smithville and also has about a dozen wastewater facilities in Branson and five well systems with towers similar to the one in Tracy. He may be willing to take over as Tracy’s new water superintendent but delivered shocking news to the board at the meeting: There is no water in their tower.
“The water tower is not in service,” he said. “It’s been sitting dormant for a while. I’m not sure how long it’s been out of service.”
Neither does the board. Newsom said that he did not know how long it will take to get the tower operational because he needs to get it reconditioned and cleaned first, then determine what needs to be done. And no one knows how much money it may take.
Alderman Larry Hill asked if the $8,000 the board hopes Dudley Alexander will advance them toward his possible development plan will pay for everything that needs to be done. Ferguson said that no bids have been solicited yet, and Newsom is not even sure how much it will take to get the tower operational.
“How have we been getting water?” asked Julie Thomas, alderman. Newsom said that Tracy is probably getting it straight from the public water district. “So, we can do without a tower?” she asked.
Bob Kaveler, alderman, told her the water tower would be needed if there is a fire. Fortunately for Tracy, that has not been the case.
“That’s why I’m shocked because our water came straight off the line, and I didn’t notice any change in pressure or anything,” said Thomas.
Rita Rhoads, alderman, said that as long as there isn’t a water pressure problem, she didn’t see where the city would have any problem with fire protection.
“Yeah, we will because we’re not meeting the fire protection standards,” Ferguson responded. “We do not have a backup.”
But Rhoads said that she was present the last time the fire department tested the pressure.
“The fire department tested it, and I was right there with them when they did it and we passed,” said Rhoads. However, Ferguson asked when that was done, and Rhoads thought it was three years ago.
Rehard provided the board with Newsom’s proposal and a standard water maintenance service agreement. She added that she had just then provided Newsom with a copy, too.
“So, he’s not had an opportunity to look at it to see how closely it conforms to his proposal,” said Rehard.
She told the board that if they were agreeable to the $500 per month that Newsom is asking, the board could vote to allow the mayor to execute the contract contingent on Newsom accepting the terms of the city’s contract. The board unanimously passed a motion to agree to the $500 per month contingent on Newsom agreeing to the terms of the contract.