Alva Review-Courier -

Freedom Town Board astonished at bigger-than-expected REAP grant award

 

January 17, 2019

Kathleen Lourde

The Freedom Town Board discussed its new REAP grant, among other things, at it's regular meeting, held Jan. 9. From left: Trustee Rolando Galindo, Clerk Cindy Reed and Mayor Shad Brackin. Trustee Terry Smith was absent.

At the regular meeting Jan. 9 of the Freedom Town Board, Mayor Shad Brackin, Trustee Rolando Galindo, and Clerk Cindy Reed discussed exciting news about their REAP grant application, as well as the situation of the town's sewer system and other business. Trustee Terry Smith was absent, but a quorum was determined.

REAP Grant Awarded for More Than Requested

"Here's the good news," said Mayor Brackin as Reed opened the manila envelope with the REAP Grant award letter from the Oklahoma Economic Development Authority (OEDA). Reed read the letter's opening sentences aloud to the board.

"Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that your project has been approved for funding. Due to a high amount of de-obligated funds, we are able to fund your project higher than what was requested."

Reed started to give the context: "Our total project was ..." but then stopped at Brackin's exaggerated look of goggle-eyed, head-shaking astonishment. "I know! I know!" she said, laughing incredulously. "Our total project was going to cost $59,470. We asked for $40,000, and we were going to pay the $19,740. They are covering the full $59,470. This is the first time this has ever happened in the history of REAP, as I know it, for the last 10 years."

"So, that will take care of all of our telemetry for our water meters," clarified Brackin.

"Yes," said Reed. "Software, transmitters, the handheld device, all of it."

The project being funded will provide remote-read water meters for all Freedom residents.

The project was described in the grant application: "Remote-Read Water Meters: Replace 135 water meters with remote read water meters for all Town of Freedom Residents. Our current meters do not meet DEQ compliance of 'no lead' meters, so the replacement meters will bring us back into compliance. We have already replaced 10 meters with 10 more currently ready to be put into use. The remote transmitters can be read by driving by the meters. The readings being done by remote will save time and help prevent leaks from going undetected for longer periods of time. At least 75 housing units for the meters will be replaced with this project, too. The software that goes along with this remote reading system is compatible with transmitters for our gas meters. We are looking at doing the gas meters as a future project. Readings can be directly loaded into our billing software as well."

The description above states that the current meters don't meet DEQ's "no-lead meters" requirement, but that doesn't mean Freedom residents could have been drinking water that does have lead in it, according to Dawn Wares of the Town of Freedom office.

"We do test quarterly, and we are lead and copper free," she said. "By having these new meters, we could reduce our DEQ testing costs."

Reed and Wares will attend mandatory REAP training at the OEDA office in Beaver, and Reed expects to receive further information regarding payment procedures at that time. The training covers how REAP grant projects must be monitored and documented.

"So we just have to accept Part One of the contract," said Reed, "and sign, and make a copy and send it back."

"Okay," said Brackin. "Let's do it!"

As Reed got her notepad ready and said that she needed a motion from someone, Brackin's mind was already on that $19,470 they'd suddenly freed up. "That'll save us a little money for the sewer."

Signing the contract was approved, and Brackin said, "We'll have to send a Christmas card to OEDA next year."

"So Dawn and I will be headed to Beaver on the 27th, and anyone who wants to join us is welcome," Reed said, referring to the mandatory training.

"When is the acceptance?" asked Brackin.

"The dinner? The board meeting and all that's is usually in April," she said.

"We should definitely make a point of having someone there for that," Brackin said.

"But this is being done a little differently," Reed said. "Normally we'd have to wait for that dinner to get our notice to proceed. But this (award letter) is our notice to proceed. The project period covered in the award letter is from Jan. 15, 2019, to Jan. 15, 2020.

Maintenance Department Report

"The sewer lines on the northwest side of town have been backing up," said Reed, "causing residents some issues."

Several years ago, Reed said, a company cleaned out the sewer lines of one section of town each year. "We had talked at that time about waiting a couple of years and having them come back and doing it again," said Reed, "and I don't think we had them come back."

The cost, Reed thinks, was about $3,000 for the one section that was cleaned per year, and it was several years ago. She assumes the cost will have gone up.

She also suggested that all the clay sewer lines would need to be replaced. Galindo agreed, adding "there's still a lot of clay."

Reed said she would look up the name of that company and have Stuart Page, in charge of maintenance, to get in touch with them and ask for some quotes. She said she'd also find out if Page has already contacted any other companies.

Treasurer's Report; Purchase Orders Approved

The board voted to approve the general, fire and ambulance funds' purchase orders (POs).

Ambulance POs

Dacoma Co-op (fuel): $28.70

Fire POs

Oklahoma State Firefighters Association (2019 membership dues): $952

MTA POs

Share Corp. (Dynasty 300): $2,040

Comfort Zone (main waterline tap): $2,195

Rural Water District (December 2018): $2,794.49

DEQ (third quarter test and lead/copper testing): $323.70

Harper Sanitation (December 2018): $3,646.36

Blue Mark (December 2018): $8,394.57

OMAG (general liability and auto insurance, fourth quarter): $643.75

OMAG (property insurance, fourth quarter): $1,025.75

CompSource (workers compensation monthly premium): $273.68

Treasurer Reed did bring the board's attention to the $2,040 paid to Share Corp. for chemicals for the lagoon. "That's a large PO every month," she said, and suggested some research be done to find out if a better price could be found elsewhere.

There was some discussion as to whether the cost might be due to problems arising from individuals who had dumps oil or grease there, or the proliferation of cattails and other vegetation in the area.

Brackin asked Reed to make a note to have the Share Corp. salesperson provide them with some information.

Sewer Lines Need Repair

Reed also mentioned that if sewer lines were going to need some major repairs, money would have to be raised to cover those repairs. "I know since I've lived here, ten years, we haven't raised any rates," she said.

Reed suggested having Wares, as billing clerk, call other towns and get a sense of what rates they charge.

"We haven't raised anything in ten years plus, and it's getting to where we're having to do maintenance on our systems, so we're going to have to ..."

"When we start all this," said Galindo, "we're also going to have to inform the residents that they'll need to start also (checking the lines on their property) from the tap to their property line. That'll need to start to be updated too, because some still have that old Orangeburg pipe that needs to be gone."

Orangeburg pipe (named after the city where most of it was made beginning in the 1860s, Orangeburg, New York) is fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together. The pipe is weak and fails more often than other kinds of pipes. Its life span – in ideal conditions – is about 50 years, but is known to fail after about 10 years, according to industry studies. It's been removed from most codes as an acceptable material.

 

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