By Bob Balgemann


Every so often, it’s necessary for the city to rehabilitate its digester. That’s part of equipment at the waste water treatment plant that reduces effluent to sludge, which then is removed and applied to farmland at various locations in Boone County.

This project was on an unusually light agenda for the Monday, July 11 meeting of Belvidere’s committee of the whole. When beginning to discuss the problem, Public Works Director Brent Anderson said the topic would “thicken the meeting up now.”

The original contract for the current rehab project had been awarded to Leander Construction in the amount of $999,900. However, Public Works Director Brent Anderson told the committee of the whole that the cost had gone up, possibly by as much as $497,000.

He explained the problem arose as the contractor began sandblasting the floating cover and found several areas of deterioration in not only the ceiling and roof steel, but also in the steel trusses.

Specifically, there was more deterioration than expected in the cover. He showed photographs to committee members to support his statement.

“The [digester] tank was built 35 years ago,” he said.

The bottom line is the cover needs to be replaced, resulting in an additional cost of an estimated $497,000.

That was good from the standpoint that it fell just below the state-required mandate of requiring a new set of bids should a single change order be 50 percent or more of the original contract price.

“We’re still working through that,” he said.

Another issue is timing. City officials wanted the project to be finished before the winter of 2016-17. However, the need to deliver and replace the cover could set the project back by up to 12 weeks.

Alderman Clayton Stevens asked if the cover could be sealed better to control the smell. There always are people who, while commenting on the treatment plant, say “that thing stinks down there.”

Anderson replied he thought the mixture of materials, used in a new decomposition process, should “make a huge difference.”

In response to another question about the longevity of the new cover, he reiterated that the current one lasted 35 years. He hoped the next would last that long, if not longer.

Alderman Dan Snow asked if the city had the authority to waive the requirement for new bids, should that become necessary.

“According to the city attorney, we do not,” the director said.

With time the most pressing issue right now, Anderson asked that the issue be placed on the city council agenda.

Committee members in a unanimous voice vote recommended that happen.

Also July 11, the committee recommended concurrence with Mayor Mike Chamberlain’s appointment of Karen Neibarger to the Ida Public Library Board.

In her letter to the mayor, she stated that she received a master’s degree in English from Eastern Illinois University and currently leads a monthly book discussion group at the library.

While not a member of Friends of the Ida Public Library, she stated that she did volunteer at the spring and fall book sales and has helped with the monthly book sort.

In addressing the committee after the unanimous vote, she was excited about the library and its building program.

“I will be happy to be part of that,” she said.



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