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Sidney city council discusses variety of topics

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Sidney City Hall

After approving an amended agenda, Sidney’s City Council got right to work on Monday, Aug. 9 to approve the consent agenda that included:

• Minutes from the meeting on July 26, 2021

• A liquor license for Gold Buckle Production

• August 2021 Claims

• Payroll Report #16

City Engineer Steve Perry had a long list of updates, requests for change orders and requests for approval of payments. Perry gave the council a quick update on each area of the project.

“We are looking toward the final items as we work to finalize the water project. The water treatment plant completion is just pending a final checklist, and that’s scheduled for next week. We are waiting on the water main to pass the last pressure and bacteria tests. We are pulling another sample tomorrow, and we’ll see where we stand with that,” he said. “So we’re in pretty good shape. The water tower itself is done, and it is ready to be filled. Of course, we can’t fill the tank until the water treatment plant is up and operational.”

Perry also told the council that the fence was put up around the tower that day and the final inspection report for the wells and well field is being prepared.

Perry added, “And we are just waiting on the lien waivers and a final punch list from Josh O’Neal Designs for the completion of the city hall ADA restroom.”

With little discussion, the council approved the following requests:

• Change Order No. 4, Contract Time Extension for Building Crafts Inc. The contract was extended to August 31, 2021.

• Pay Request No. 10 in the amount of $ 94,981.91 for Building Crafts Inc. for their work on the new water treatment plant.

• Pay Request No. 5 for $ 198,490.63 to Gerard Tank & Steel Inc. for the new water tower.

• Change Order No. 5, Contract Time Extension for Rieschick Drilling Company Inc. The contract was extended to August 31, 2021.

• Pay Request No. 5 in the amount of $35,014.25 for Rieschick Drilling Co. for the new wells and wellfield.

• Change Order No. 3, Contract Time Extension for McCarthy Trenching LLC for work on the transmission main. The contract was extended to August 31, 2021.

• Change Order No. 1, a $4,000.00 Increase of payment to Josh O’Neal Designs

• Pay Request No. 1 for $ 17,100.00 (95% of contract work complete) payable to Josh O’Neal Designs for City Hall ADA Restroom Improvements

• Pay Request No. 2 for $900.00. This is the retainage as Perry waits on the lien waivers.

• The solicitation of proposals for a utility trailer with a tank for the water treatment plant backwash material disposal.

Steve MacDonald was on the agenda to talk to the council about a storm sewer issue on Douglas Street. MacDonald told the council that it has been a problem for years, and he’s been asking the city to fix it. When questioned, Perry indicated that it was built in 1988 when there were no houses there but it is definitely time to update.

“This area has been a problem for the past 10 years. When it was built a long time ago, it wasn’t a problem because there were no houses or lots in use,” MacDonald said. “The problem now is every time we have a substantial rain, like we did a couple of weeks ago, it blows trash and water onto Doc Laumann’s lot. I actually leveled that lot for him years ago so we could put a baseball field out there. We have kids that play baseball out there, we have tag football, and this stuff is running right out into that field. And it stinks to high heaven. So I am asking the city to fix it so it doesn’t do that. I know none of you think it should do that.”

The council wholeheartedly agreed.

Perry added, “We’ve also talked about selling the land, closing it at Douglas Street, and selling it to me for a dollar. I would be willing to do that, dig it out, and tap it into the storm sewer on West Street as long as I knew the specifications. Now, I don’t care if I get the land, I just want it fixed.”

Supervisor Anne Travis had questions about the area and where the water was draining and where it should drain.

Supervisor Ken Brown said, “It was originally set up to drain into that empty field then into the street when there were no houses.”

He deferred to Perry as he asked, “What would it take to fix it?”

Perry gave a few options and when Supervisor LouAnn Bell asked about the costs, Perry said he would have to take a close look to determine where they would be tapping it in and how much work would be involved before an estimate can be given.

Perry told the council and MacDonald that he will be taking a closer look at it soon. Mayor Peter Johnson said the next step is to investigate and determine potential solutions.

“This gets our bearings on the situation to see what our potential solutions are. We can find some creative solutions that are in everyone’s best interest,” Johnson said.

He appreciated that MacDonald brought it to their attention and is willing to help provide a solution. The council will put it on the agenda for the next meeting to take possible action.

Michael Goins, the general manager of Midwest Data Center, was in attendance to discuss deploying aerial fiber in Sidney. There was a lot of discussion on this topic.

Goins said, “I believe the last time we were here was pre-Covid, and there has been a lot happening since then, with a lot of changes, so we wanted to touch base to let you know where we are. We’ve been working with MidAmerican to make sure the issues we’ve had with poles are solved. It looks like the project is on tap to get started for full fiber in the very near future.”

Goins introduced Jeremy Davis (outside plant manager) to describe the timeline and how it will affect the city.

“But before we go tonight, I want to ask the council where we should start first and where the fiber would have the most impact from your perspective.”

Working with contractors Davis said, “I’ve been working with MidAmerican Energy the past three months with what we would call the getting the make-ready piece and that’s the part that has to get engineered and designed and specs ready for hanging on their poles. We have all of that in place and now have the numbers. I’m working with them on the timeline on what it’s going to take for them to get in there and do the work. We can get started on the poles that are ready. We are working on getting all the materials buttoned up which is challenging because of shortages across the board. The contractors are lined up to do the work and are ready to get started as soon as I give them the word. As soon as we get a few things ironed out, I would say within the next month, we will be ready to do some construction. It will depend on MidAmerican’s schedule, too.

The council had questions about aerial versus buried cable. Goins told them the benefits of aerial include the cost effectiveness, the time, the distribution, and the option of working through the winter. Goins also maintained that their fiber has very little outages when it comes to aerial and cost difference could be it the millions.

There were questions about the risks, other companies coming in to provide fiber, etc. as discussion and questions continued.

Goins said, “Are there risks? An ice storm? Absolutely. We will have outages but we can get our customers up and running quickly. Other companies? We are a capitalistic society, by all means. We want to serve the customers. That’s how we are.”

Johnson asked speed and building capacity on that speed.

“What would you be looking at as far as speed and what would your infrastructure allow that speed to increase to?”

Goins told Johnson and the council that can grow with the community and with the electronics in the future. He discussed what they are offering and what a typical family would need for working at home, gaming and streaming.

“It will essentially future proof your community,” he said.

The council and Goins also discussed the FCC map (Federal Communications Commission) as far as underserved areas in town, where the needs are for fiber to be installed first, and the pricing tiers.

Johnson told the council members, “If we can’t identify the crucial area, I recommend that council members get out and about and talk to your neighbors to see if we can identify those neighborhoods that have a higher need. We will dig a little bit deeper before we will answer that question. We appreciate your willingness to allow that.”

Goins told the council that there are better maps being developed so a community can better serve those areas in need of Internet service. He also said, “There are speed/price tiers so that our lowest package is $40 a month, and it will be twice as fast as their current highest package which cost $70.”

When council member Drew LeMaster asked Goins for an idea as to how long it will take for the city to be fully served, Goins said they are hoping they can be completed within 90 days once they can get started.

James Nennemann was up next to discuss his Bitwind lease agreement. Bitwind has requested leasing space on the water tower for installation and operation of their cables and antenna facilities for use in connection with their communications business. Travis recommended that the contract for the lease be signed but a discussion about the rent be done at a later time. Johnson and Nennemann will meet to make that decision.

John Long, a rural customer, was in attendance to endorse Bitwind, and he talked favorably about his experience with them and the work that Nennemann does.

Travis remarked that the council uses James for their IT consultations, and has really appreciated his support. She then asked about how many people are currently being served by Bitwind. Brown indicated he had already asked for that information last week, and told the council that Bitwind has 44 customers in the Sidney area where connection is coming off the tower, and there are 20 customers in town and 4 of them are businesses.

The council made a motion and moved to approve Resolution 2021-29, the Bitwind Lease Agreement.

Terry Graham with the Sidney Hometown Pride was not in attendance to speak to the council about the Battle of the Bulls vendor fees so that agenda item was not addressed.

Brown tackled the agenda item about requesting proposals for legal services for nuisance abatements. He believes that those issues can be taken care of in a timely manner rather than waiting on their city attorney, Keith Tucker, to be able to address them. The council decided this was a necessary step to ensure they can work on the abatements and agreed it is definitely something to investigate. Johnson indicated he would first extend a courtesy call to Tucker to tell him that this in under consideration before pursuing this further. Travis mentioned that Tucker has done an excellent job on the water project and getting things moving on the 317 Main property but there are many minor issues that arise that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

In other business, the council approved the following resolutions:

• Resolution 2021-30, Directing The Clerk to Publish Notice of Hearing on the Adoption of the Proposed “Code Of Ordinances Of The City Of Sidney, Iowa”

• Resolution 2021-31, Setting Public Hearing Of Proposed Sale And Conveyance Of Real Estate Owned by the City of Sidney, Iowa

• Approve Resolution 2021-32, Authorizing The Transfer of Funds for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2021

The council also approved using Community Betterment money for the purchase of rubber mulch for the city park. Park board member, Don Benedict, had provided the council with three quotes for providing the mulch. Council member Lou Ann Kyle asked Benedict when he thought this might be done. Benedict told her as soon as they can get the mulch. While on the subject of the town’s parks,

Benedict asked, “Do we have something out at the rodeo grounds/park for Wifi? I was think of getting something online for the community out there.”

Johnson agreed and said it would be really nice because there could be several events out there.

No date was set for the Iowa League of City training as council member Lou Ann Kyle had not yet heard back from her contacts.

Bryan Varellas, head of public works, asked for discussion and approval of two items. After little discussion, the council approved both action items:

• Replacing the curb/inlet boxes on both sides of Douglas Street & Foote Street

• The purchase of 15 gallons of pool paint in the amount of $1662.00

In the board sharing and communications piece, Travis indicated that the vendor fees collection went very well at rodeo. Next year they will plan to take care of fees as early as April and allow vendors to pay online. Other discussion included whether or not to close the streets around the square for rodeo. Some businesses were happy with the decision and a few would not agree to do it again because they determined it was detrimental to their businesses.

Brown also introduced the subject of enticing builders to come to Sidney and what the city can do to get builders. LeMaster said he is waiting on a call from a realtor about getting developers in Sidney, as well.

The council will continue this discussion at the next meeting on Aug. 23.

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