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Stories Added - January 2010
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Freezing weather took a toll on Livingston water lines
Polk County Enterprise - January 2010
LIVINGSTON — City Council members began Tuesday’s meeting with prayers for Councilman Elgin Davis and his family. Davis’ wife of 43 years, Mary Lou Davis, died Monday and funeral services are set for Saturday. Mary Lou Davis was an active community volunteer and launched the respiratory therapy department at Polk County Memorial Hospital. City Manager Marilyn Sutton gave the city’s elected officials an overview of how city utility services fared during the several days of freezing weather. The water department began having trouble with some sixinch water mains and several twoinch main lines Saturday, Sutton said. City crews were continuing to work on water leaks Tuesday evening. Several customer calls came in regarding leaks on private property as well, Sutton said. “The utility crews really deserve congratulations for their hard work. It’s very cold outside if you’re dry, but try being wet,” Sutton said. “They have worked so diligently to keep the water supply going under some difficult conditions.” Only two electric outages occurred during the freeze. One of those was caused by an auto accident that took out a utility pole, Sutton said. “Crews were out about seven hours in some awfully cold temperatures to get the power restored to the one business customer affected,” she said.
A brief power outage occurred downtown early Monday morning when the west circuit had a “blip,” Sutton told the council. The substation problem has been corrected and the relay repaired. Firefighters and police officers assisted utility crews with trying to located water line breaks and get them repaired. Councilman Bill Wiggins said he had heard reports that local building supply retailers had run low on plumbing supplies there were so many water leaks caused by the freeze. Sutton added that Trinity River Authority had struggled to keep the water supply going during the rough weather. Tuesday’s warmer temperatures and sunny skies had allowed the city’s water supplier to get ahead of customer demand and storage tanks are full again, she said. The forecast is not so sunny for disaster relief funds that city officials hoped to become available for repairs to city infrastructure that was damaged by or failed to function during Hurricane Ike in September 2008. Sutton said the city was awarded $1,258,420 in round one of the disaster funds but has not yet received final approval to move forward with the projects.
Round one projects include generators for lift stations, trimming trees away from power line rights-of-way, a fuel station for city generators and a mechanical bar spring at the wastewater plant. Those projects have been processed and reviewed a number of times and the Texas Department of Rural Affairs continues to find new reasons why the projects cannot be approved. For Round 2 funds, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rejected the statewide plan to distribute those funds. DETCOG did a wonderful job holding public hearings and developed a new method of distribution (MOD), Sutton said. “We just received a copy of a letter from TDRA saying they appreciate all the effort from DETCOG and other COGs, but they only submitted the amended MOD on housing,” Sutton said. “There is still discussion between the state and federal officials on how the money will be spent. It has been a struggle and difficult for everyone to figure out what’s going to happen next would be an understatement,” Sutton said. “Under federal officials approve Texas’ action plan for spending Round 2, nothing will move forward,” Sutton said. “
‘Extremely frustrating’ is the best way to describe what’s going on between the state and federal governments.” After receiving a “definitive no” on the City of Livingston’s request to use disaster funds to clear power line rights-of-way, the council voted to approve a bid from C.M. Josslyn Inc. to clear limbs and trees from an eight mile wide area. C.M. Josslyn was the only bidder at $82,000. Sutton suggested accepting the bid since it was within the budget projection and the company has done work for Sam Rayburn Municipal Power and Sam Houston Electric Coop in the Livingston area. Sutton also reported that contractors should begin work next week on a previously approved project to repair decanters at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Crews will begin moving into the plant this week. The Texas Commission for Environmental Quality conducted an annual inspection on the sanitary sewer system and found four minor deficiencies that were immediately corrected, Sutton said.