City, union agree to allow outside workers assist DPW

ISHPEMING – The Ishpeming City Council recently ratified an agreement between the city and the union that represents its Department of Public Works employees to contract outside help for thawing frozen water lines and mains.

The agreement was signed by City Manager Mark Slown and representatives from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 on Feb. 12, but was brought by Slown to the council earlier this month for its approval.

According to the agreement, the union, “because of the city’s lack of manpower and equipment,” allowed the city to contract A. Lindberg & Sons to assist Ishpeming DPW workers with thawing lines and other related work.

DPW Superintendent Jon Kangas told the council that the DPW has done more than 400 thaws, some of them repeat visits. He said with four crews working – two from the DPW and two from Lindberg – they can just about keep up with calls about frozen lines. However, when he has to divert crews to other duties such as broken mains, snow plowing and snow removal, the backlog can take two or three days to catch up.

In other action, the council:

– Approved a change order from Premeau Construction for structural work the company had done on the fire hall. The $1,400 change order was a compromise between $2,800 – the amount Premeau should have billed for the work – and $280 – the amount Premeau originally billed on the change order due to a math error.

– Tabled a discussion of what to do with a city-owned garage near the corner of First and Pearl streets. The garage was damaged when water used to fight the fire at Hickey’s Bar in November flooded a neighboring basement, causing the foundation of the garage to shift and the structure itself to split.

The council decided to wait until spring to decide whether to contract with someone to tear it down or if the DPW has the time and manpower to do so itself.

  • Approved the final design of the city’s new gateway sign. The sign features a wide obelisk, like that of Cliffs Shaft, connected to a ski-jump-shaped piece bearing the salutation, “Welcome to Ishpeming.” At the base of the sign are mine rocks.

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