Ishpeming council moves ahead on a number of projects

ISHPEMING – The Ishpeming City Council approved a number of contracts at their regular meeting Wednesday, mostly for upgrades to city infrastructure and services.

The council unanimously approved a motion to waive competitive bidding and award a contract for a sewer and water utility rate analysis not to exceed $6,400 to GEI Consultants of Michigan Inc. GEI will review and analyze current water and sewer usage and “prepare a range of at least three” sewer and water utility rate options.

“Our sewer and water funds are significantly underfunded and in dire need of being properly funded,” Interim City Manager and Department of Public Works superintendent Jon Kangas said. He said due to a study done several years ago by the Michigan Rural Water Association of downstate Harrison, previous sewer and water rates were “overcorrected” and subsequently “rescinded” by the city council, which he said put the city “in a situation where we need to correct our funding moving forward or our sewer and water funds will be in jeopardy.”

Councilwoman Claudia Demarest made a motion, passed unanimously, directing Kangas to apply for a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater grant. The grant program can provide up to two million dollars per community, and communities that are considered by the DEQ to be “disadvantaged” – which Councilman Joe Juidici said Ishpeming usually is – can receive a 100 percent grant with no local matching funds required. Additionally, if given the 100 percent grant, Ishpeming can spend up to $500,000 in grant funds for construction projects identified in an asset management plan.

Juidici said applying for the grant was a “no brainer” to get potentially “free money.”

In other action, the city council:

– Awarded Marquette-based Premeau Construction with a contract for the Ishpeming Fire Hall structural and footing drains project. Premeau had the low bid of $48,988 for the structural work and their bid for the footing drains – which were expected to cost over $100,000 – came in at $39,757.

– Granted the U.P. Power Co. – pending City Attorney David Savu’s final approval – an easement to city land which UPPCO plans to use to upgrade their electrical services

– Directed Fire Chief Ed Anderson to apply for a U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grant and to provide five percent matching funds not to exceed $2,500 in order to upgrade the fire department’s hoses and nozzles – many of which are more than 20 years old

– Authorized Kangas to sign the contract with MR Valuations so that the company can get started with their valuation of Bell Hospital/LifePoint assets in the city

– Requested a proposal for installing shower facilities at the DPW building and to reconnect the DPW building with the police station and fire hall, enabling employees of all three departments to use the facilities

– OK’d rental from Midway Rentals & Sales a propane heater to heat the temporary fire hall, which is in the old recycling center, while work is done on the fire hall downtown. Tall called the heater a “furnace on wheels” and Fire Chief Anderson said it will put out 350,000 BTUs.

– Directed the planning commission study city property along Malton Road and come back to the city council with a “set of recommendations” for zoning and eventually selling the land for residential use and commercial development

– Promoted Carol Holmgren from secretary to the city manager to assistant to the city manager – not assistant city manager – and adjusted her compensation and job description accordingly.

– Moved to make upwards of $10,000 in necessary repairs to the city’s 1995 Pierce-Saber fire truck, as the fire department expects to use the truck for at least another five years.

– Directed Kangas to review Robert’s Rules of Order – an established guide to running meetings and conferences effectively and fairly – and discuss them with Ishpeming City Clerk Jenifer Rajala to make the council’s meeting minutes more succinct.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is