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City exploring hire of full time sewer operator


map_of_lockesburg_arLOCKESBURG – A proposal for hiring a full-time sewage system operator for the city of Lockesburg was floated for the first time at the regular monthly meeting of the city’s council Tuesday evening.

Mayor Danny Ruth proposed the possibility of looking for a wastewater operator due to the changing circumstances the city is seeing, both with the current and long-building issues that the city is experiencing with their sewage treatment facility, and with the reduced work related to pipes that the city should see as a result of the massive water and sewer pipeline replacement projects that are underway.
“We should be able to reduce the need for a utilities worker,” Ruth stated, explaining that the job had been created mainly to deal with the near-incessant water and sewer leaks that the city experienced in previous years as the aging water and sewer systems deteriorated before being approved for replacement last year.
He went on to say, “I think we can use that to hire someone licensed, with experience, to deal with this sewer.”
The call was prompted at least in part due to the difficulties the city is seeing with their current sewage treatment facility, which the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has cited and fined the city for being out of compliance with regulations.
The council approved in previous months the expenditure of nearly $300,000 to partially redesign the city’s sewage settling pond and replace equipment at the site. Robin Rice, who was present at the meeting as a representative of A.L. Franks Engineering, the firm that contracts with the city of Lockesburg for municipal building projects, reported that she is confident that the application for an extension on the deadline that ADEQ had given the city for coming into compliance would be granted.
Rice also stated that the long-awaited sewage pipe replacement project would begin on April 27. That project, initially estimated to be completed several months ago, was held up by the need for an easement from Omega Rail Management company, which was finally granted only two months ago. Rice reported that completion of the project would depend on the weather, but would probably be done by mid-summer.
Though the council passed a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting regarding the expansion and redesign of the sewage pond, discussion of the hiring of a full-time operator was deferred until more information could be presented.
The majority of other business heard at the council meeting regarded travel to municipal organization conferences, with both Ruth and the city’s park director approved to attend the Arkansas Municipal League’s annual conference this summer.
Travel to Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development classes on accounting were approved for city employee JoAnna Giusti and classes on community needs grants for Ruth were also approved, along with an unspecified park commission member.