Kingsford freezing woes persist


News Editor

KINGSFORD – Problems with frozen water lines are continuing but the pace is at least subsiding, Kingsford’s city manager reported Monday.

“It’s been a very brutal winter,” said Tony Edlebeck, who has compiled temperature data showing that conditions are the worst in more than 35 years.

Edlebeck provided an update to the city council showing 73 Kingsford water lines thawed so far, including 18 over the past two weeks. In many cases the process takes only a half-hour, but excavation was needed recently to reach major feeder lines at both the Birchwood Mall and the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Community Federal Credit Union. Digging has also begun for a thaw near Oldbenburg Group Inc.’s technology center, Edlebeck said.

A total of 217 water services are on “let run” status, meaning a steady flow has been ordered to prevent freeze-ups. That’s up from 176 two weeks ago. The city has about 2,600 customers in all.

“We’re seeing some very unusual temperatures,” Edlebeck said, noting that average daily temperatures from November through February totaled 2,277 degrees below freezing. Cumulatively, that’s some 200 degrees colder than the same time frame in 1995-96, which had been the most frigid winter going back as far as 1978.

Council member Joe Groeneveld said he has heard nothing but positive comments about the efforts of city crews responding to problems. Council member Brian Smeester agreed that city workers are doing a good job.

Public works crews have also been called out to thaw sewer lines, most recently on Woodward Avenue, Edlebeck said.

Smeester asked if the city might discover cracks in water lines after the spring thaw. That may be the case, Edlebeck acknowledged, but it’s most likely to occur in cases where service has been shut off by the occupant for the winter.

In other action Monday, the city council:

– Learned that the Dickinson County Road Commission has turned down an offer from the city to provide snow removal in two areas of Breitung Township that would be more convenient for the city to handle. The cost proposal from the city was $79.13 for each occurrence at the Wagner Drive area (near Ford Airport) and $159.19 for each occurrence at the Skidmore area (near the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Wastewater Treatment Plant). According to a letter from James Harris, the commission’s superintendent of operations, the idea was put to a vote and the commission decided to make no changes at this time.

– Directed Edlebeck and City Attorney Bruce Brouillette to come up with options to resolve a payment of $34,035 that is eight months overdue from JMT Development LLC for 18.13 acres of property acquired from the city in 2008 for the Riverdale residential development. The purchase cost was $125,000 payable over five years, and the final payment remains. The Riverdale parcel of 23 residential lots is located along the Menominee River directly upstream of the River Pointe condominium complex. All other obligations to the city in relation to Riverdale/River Pointe developments have been paid, Edlebeck said. The city has received a communication from JMT Development saying its current members were unaware of the obligation when an ownership change took place in May 2012. JMT has offered a payment of $12,763. The city isn’t wavering on whether the full payment is due, but council members expressed a willingness to continue discussions before deciding whether to seek foreclosure.

– Noted that Board of Review sessions for property assessments are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 10, and 1:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, at city hall.

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