Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for May 5, 2010
Road closure discussion heats up Fredonia Town Council
Public comment began with Vaelyn Mackelprang expressing her concerns about the employee residency code. She indicated the part-time court person brought up at the last meeting lived in the same zip, paying taxes into our schools and community. She felt employees should at least live in the same zip code to be contributors to the community.
Public Works Director Jay Mackelprang updated the council on the cemetery water. He stated the backflow preventer necessary to change the water over from secondary to culinary will cost approximately $3,500.
Councilman Greg Honey was concerned that 20 minutes may not be enough time to water the grass at the cemetery because there is new grass needing more water. Mackelprang agreed to watch it and adjust as necessary.
Carl Hughes informed the council there had been an article in the Arizona Republic he felt represented the town unfavorably. He encouraged the council and others present to visit www.azcentral.com to view the article.
The agenda items began with Russ Funk, engineer from Sunrise Engineering. He offered recommendations for the contractor on the upcoming water project. Funk explained that although JNJ was the low apparent bidder, they did not meet the required qualifications; hence the recommendation was for Johansen. Funk stated the recommendation was not a reflection of JNJ or their employees, they just did not meet the minimum requirements.
Mayor Dixie Judd focused on the more than $100,000 difference in the bids. However, council members Honey and Mackelprang were confident in Sunrise Engineering’s recommendation. They expressed that with a multi-million dollar project like this, experience is critical. The engineer’s requirements were put in place for a reason and they needed to trust them and their expertise.
Funk also explained the price difference would not affect the bond, it would only affect the grant. The bond is what will be used first; it is a set amount. Any cost above the amount of the bond will be paid by the grant. Any cost savings will only reduce the amount of the grant, not the amount of the loan.
The council voted to hire Johansen as the contractor for the water project and use low bidder, Scholzen Product Company, for materials.
A water fee increase was also on the agenda. Brent Mackelprang explained that the town has been working on this water project for over 20 years. The number one concern of residents has always been water quantity and quality. This project addresses both. Honey agreed this project is vital to the community.
Mackelprang explained the town’s electrical rates were significantly lower than any other town. Although times are difficult, the water is crucial.
Town Manager Dan Watson explained another side of the water project. The recent ISO inspection of the Fredonia Fire Department revealed the town does not supply adequate water pressure to the hydrants. This was one of the key deficiencies that led to the department’s low score. If not corrected, this and other issues will cause townspeople to experience an increase in homeowner’s insurance. Not a small increase, but more than triple. Watson said if residents were to pay $10-$15 more per month on their water bill, it would be far less than an additional $1,000 a year on their homeowner’s insurance.
The council was informed a public hearing must be held prior to any change in the fees. They set the date for May 11, 2010.
Mackelprang explained that the council sent a letter requesting coordination status with the Forest Service with regards to their planning of the Kaibab. A letter was received in response; however, the letter from the Forest Service addressed cooperating status, not coordination status. Mackelprang felt the council should issue another letter requesting the town be given coordination status. The coordination status would allow the council to participate in the forest planning on a higher level than simply voicing its opinion.
“It’s our job to be involved and to participate as a town, that’s why we submitted for coordination status,” stated Mackelprang. He expressed his concern about the 360-380 miles of roadway on the Kaibab slated to be closed. It was explained the road closures would severely impact the residents of Fredonia and surrounding communities. Woodcutting, hunting and recreation will all be affected, which not only directly affects the majority of the people in the community, it also negatively affects the local economy.
Tim Short, representative from the U.S. Forest Service, said the travel management plan is currently going through the public input process. He offered council a working meeting at which council and the Forest Service can discuss the plan. “We want as much involvement as we can get,” said Short. He informed council and those present there will be a public meeting at the Fredonia Library May 13, 2010, to discuss the road closures. The venue may change to accommodate higher attendance. The council offered the chambers at the town office if needed.
Resident Alvey Johnson expressed his concern hearing the plan was to cut off firewood gathering all together within two years. “Please, stand your ground,” he pleaded with the council. Council expressed they will do whatever possible, but the residents of Fredonia and surrounding communities must also participate and let their voices be heard.
The employee residency code was changed to exempt part-time employees from being required to live in Fredonia. The code will be enforced for full-time employees. The new wording will be sent to the town attorney for approval.
Also passed were the sponsorship of the Little League softball pitching machine and sponsorship of the Little Miss Pageant. Council also ratified the decision to approve Caleb Cluff’s Eagle Project of repairing the swimming pool dressing rooms.