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Peabody City Council: No cadmium!

End in sight for sewer project

Staff writer

The “never-ending sewer project” seems to have reached a conclusion after all. Interim city clerk Stephanie Ax announced to Peabody Mayor Ed Slocombe and city council she had received notification from Integrated Solutions, Inc., confirming test results at the former sewer plant indicate there is no cadmium present at the site.

“They also took out the monitoring wells,” Ax said. “The only thing we need now is an official copy of the letter to Kansas Department of Health and Environment, giving us a clean bill of health.”

The demolition at the former sewer plant came to a halt in November 2005, when testing was done at the site and mercury was found in levels considered dangerous by KDHE. The city spent roughly $160,000 to have the site excavated and the contaminated soil hauled to a hazardous waste landfill in Louisiana. Following that procedure, the area was declared clear of mercury.

However, the subsequent testing indicated the presence of cadmium, a toxic element used in nickel-cadmium batteries, and other items. A small amount of cadmium was detected at the site and monitoring wells were installed to provide data about the metal.

Since then, repeated testing has not proven the presence of cadmium, but has not proven the absence of it either. The sewer project received more than 20 extensions to close out the project by KDHE and Rural Development.

“It will be a relief to get this taken care of,” said councilman Tom Schmidt, who was Peabody mayor when the sewer plant demolition began.

In a related matter, another sewer collapse was reported Monday in the 400 block between Sycamore and Maple streets. The collapse affected not only the city’s part of the sewer, but the homeowner’s as well.

A contractor was lined-up to replace the sewer.

The council also heard a proposal from Chris Young for snow removal during the coming months. After discussion, they postponed a decision until public works director Darren Pickens could put together a list of priority streets and parking lots, and meet with Young to work out a time- frame for snow removal.

Young will return Dec. 29 with a more a complete proposal.

In other business, the council:

  • heard a proposal for Joe Walter of Creative Insurance Strategies for employee insurance. After discussion and questions Walter agreed to provide additional information and council agreed to get input about employees’ needs.
  • agreed the nuisance property at 805 N. Plum has been abated.
  • discussed possible changes to the animal ordinance requiring pet tags for domestic pets. No decision was made and council will visit the issue again Jan. 12, 2009.
  • agreed to review employee COLA increases as a percentage of employees’ salaries and as a lump sum added to each pay check. The review will take place at the Dec. 29 meeting.
  • agreed to a Christmas gift of $75 in Peabody Bucks to full-time employees and $30 in Peabody Bucks for part-time employees.
  • approved the purchase of four metal benches for the downtown area by Peabody Main Street. The money will come out of the PMSA budget. Additional benches will be offered as part of a memorial project to provide some amenities to the historic downtown district.
  • reviewed the cost of phone charges to the city, voted to donate $50 in Peabody Bucks to the HUB for a New Year’s Eve party, heard Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke received his notary public certification, approved a $100 expenditure to continue certified municipal clerk training for Ax, and approved the carry-over of two remaining vacation days for Ax into the 2009 schedule.
  • heard Ax completed a workshop in Wichita for W-2 and form 1099 training. She also reported that Dale Clark of Knudson and Monroe had volunteered to help with year-end issues if needed.
  • heard Arlen Gfeller had agreed to serve as interim zoning inspector at $25 per hour, effective immediately.
  • heard from sanitation committee members Larry Larsen and Leslie LaFoy that a meeting was held Dec. 3 to discuss a sewer problem in the Westview Manor area. Larsen had gone to the courthouse and discovered that the part of the property in question had been deeded to Westview in 1963. Expansion of the facility since then was made over an existing sewer line that now needs to be repaired. No resolution to the issue was determined.
  • entered two 15-minute executive sessions for the purpose of discussing personnel. No action was taken on return to open meeting.
  • heard from LaFoy that Kansas Department of Transportation and Amtrak will spend $200,000 on a feasibility study for expanded passenger service.

Last modified Dec. 10, 2008

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