Street project, water plant evaluation approved in Monday meetings
By Ken Childers
Members of the Okemah City Council convened for three separate meetings Monday evening and took a number of actions, including the approval of a street overlay project and authorizing an engineering firm to perform an evaluation on the city’s 60-year-old water treatment plant.
During the city council meeting, a new street repair/overlay project at a cost of $9,000 was unanimously approved. The project, which covers the 100 block of South Fifth Street from West Broadway to Ash, is in addition to a previously-approved resurfacing project on Date Street from Third to Sixth Street and on Fourth Street from Cherry to Fig. The earlier project, with a total cost of about $300,000, is being funded by a combination of grant monies and tax dollars. The latest project will be funded entirely by the city.
In other action, the council approved payment of an invoice from Delta Airport Consultants in the amount of $5,497.88 for runway pavement rehabilitation. The city’s portion of the invoice is minimal, as $4,948 will be paid through a Federal Aviation Administration grant.
The council also agreed to reduce a lien on property located in the Dill Addition by $900. The matter was first discussed in executive session, pursuant to state statute.
Another executive session occurred during the Economic Development Authority meeting, which directly followed the city council meeting. The purpose of the executive session was to discuss the appraisal of the building known as the solid waste transfer station. No action was taken and the issue was tabled until the next regularly scheduled meeting.
Acting as the Okemah Utilities Authority, council members authorized Brandon Wall of Wall Engineering to conduct a full-scale evaluation of the city’s aging water treatment plant. The city is eligible for a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, which will fund all but $15,000 of the evaluation.
“As you guys know, that plant is 60 years old. The guts of the plant are 60 years old. The clarifiers and the filters are 60 years old. You’ve got a lot of problems out there,” Wall told the board. “I hate to see you guys spend large sums of money on a plant without having a good way forward.”
After approving the plant evaluation, the authority again addressed the topic of water. Eugene Cheatwood, Chairman of Rural Water District #2, asked the board for a credit to help offset the cost of flushing about two million gallons of water through newly-installed lines. Earlier this year, the water district replaced lines from its offices on West Columbia to the old water plant at Five Star Ranch and from the Castle water tower, north to IXL (1030 Road) and continuing east for two miles.
“We’re at the point now to where we’re going to have to fill these lines, test them then flush them to get them decontaminated. We’re looking at running somewhere around $7,000 worth of water down the creek to do this. I don’t know whether you can help us or not, but if you can, it would be greatly appreciated,” Cheatwood said.
After a motion for approval from Mayor Mike Fuller, the board voted unanimously to grant Cheatwood’s request by issuing a $7,000 credit.
In other action, the authority voted to amend the rules for Okemah Lake to allow swimming around privately owned boat docks, provided dock owners sign a waiver releasing the city from liability. Swimming had previously been limited to designated areas marked with buoys.
The council typically meets at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month. The next regular meeting is slated for Sept. 14 at City Hall. All city council and related meetings are open to the public.