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Frozen pumps claim city council attention

 
Frozen pumps claim city council attention
Retired truck driver John Richter addresses the La Vernia City Council Feb. 10 on a proposed ordinance to prohibit unmuffled engine brakes within the city limits.

LA VERNIA The city will replace two pumps at the H-E-B lift station here, at a cost of approximately $5,500 each, after the pumps froze and split their casings during the extreme cold spell Feb. 3-4.

Mayor Harold Schott advised councilmen D. Bradford Beck, Randy Leonard, Eloi Cormier, and Marie Gerlich of the incident during the Feb. 10 regular council meeting, as the council belatedly accepted receipt of the infrastructure the pumps, lift station, and associated waterline from H-E-B.

Schott admitted the city had been remiss in not accepting the infrastructure sooner. The condition of the items following the freeze was not at issue, Schott said.

The damage to the pumps occurred because they were only set to function approximately 15 minutes per day, Schott said. The pumps were not reset prior to the subfreezing temperatures and their lack of activity caused them to freeze up, he added.

Further discussion of the matter arose during the public works department report. Beck and Gerlich asked if Public Works Director Richard Fryer can be present at a future meeting to answer the council’s questions about plans to prevent such an occurrence in the future. Leonard advised the matter could not be discussed further, since it was not on the council agenda and the public works report did not include detail on the matter.

Also receiving council attention was a proposed ordinance prohibiting the use of unmuffled engine brakes within the city, primarily because of the noise nuisance caused by the braking. Resident John Richter, a retired truck driver, spoke against the proposal.

“The majority of truck drivers don’t use those brakes,” Richter said. “I can understand your reasons for not allowing them, but the safety reasons far outweigh the noise issues caused by a few idiots.”

Schott invited Richter to remain as the council addressed the agenda item later in the meeting. If the measure met with council approval, signage would be needed on U.S. 87 “at each end of town,” Schott said. Richter offered his understanding that signs would be necessary on every road into La Vernia, not just on the main highway.

Discussion among the council members revealed a lack of support for the measure, which died for lack of a motion.

The council also:

¢Approved council elections to be called for May 14 for council seats currently held by Cormier, Leonard, and Beck.

¢Appointed Gerlich as the council’s representative for the Greater La Vernia Parks Foundation.

¢Approved Robert Gregory, a recent appointee to the city’s planning and zoning commission, to fill a vacancy on the city’s Impact Fee Advisory Committee.

¢Authorized the Well Committee to proceed with negotiating the scope and extent of work to be performed for a replacement well and new municipal well.

¢Approved entering into an agreement with the La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department to provide regular reports on water usage.

¢Tabled, pending further information, a decision on whether the city will continue as a member of the Regional Water Alliance. Membership dues are $200 annually.

 
 
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