Mansfield will get help from James River district to convert water systemHURON — The unincorporated community of Mansfield will get help from the James River Water Development District to build a new distribution system for drinking water.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
HURON — The unincorporated community of Mansfield will get help from the James River Water Development District to build a new distribution system for drinking water.
The James River district’s board voted unanimously Thursday to provide $35,000 toward the estimated $160,700 cost of Mansfield’s project.
Because the community isn’t incorporated as a municipality, it lacks taxing authority and can’t pledge money for repaying a state government loan.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources recommended that Mansfield dissolve its water association, followed by the 30-plus households and other users purchasing their water directly from the WEB rural pipeline system.
The association currently contracts with WEB for approximately 204,000 gallons monthly but often is billed for more than 300,000 gallons because so much water leaks from the current distribution system.
The state Board of Water and Natural Resources is expected this spring to consider a grant for possibly 50 percent of the project costs. Mansfield residents want to start construction of the new distribution system this summer.
Each user would be responsible for cost of the line from the WEB meter.
Mansfield, located in Brown County, was represented Thursday by residents John Graham, Venus Donley and Tim Lefforge.
“We want a picture of someone drinking the water,” James River board member Carol Millan of Mitchell said. Donley replied, “We will get you that.”
NEW HIRE: The James River board voted Thursday to give a contract to Dave Bartel to continue serving as interim manager for the district.
Bartel, who previously worked for the district, was promoted in February after manager Darrell Raschke resigned. Bartel has been serving as acting manager since then.
The board approved a $60,000 annual salary for Bartel. The contract runs through the end of 2012, and the pay rate will be retroactive to his Feb. 19 start as manager.
Raschke resigned under pressure after a financial review by the state Department of Legislative Audit and after he changed the wording of the board’s response to that review.
Meanwhile, no one has applied for the two vacancies on the board after two chairmen in a row resigned in December and February.
And the legislator who forced the Raschke departure to a head, Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, made a surprise visit to the district office recently to ask questions about its financial status, according to board member Randy Grismer of Aberdeen.
Grismer noted that Novstrup paid for and picked up the copies of financial records he had requested two years ago and won on an appeal to a hearing examiner.
BRANCHING OUT: Landowners in the counties of the James River district will once again get assistance for their tree-planting activities.
The board gave its OK Thursday to earmarking $65,000 to be spread among the counties.