Waterloo projects, services garner acclaim

Illinois Municipal Electric Agency President and CEO Kevin Gaden (right) presents Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith and Waterloo Director of Public Works Tim Birk with the 2012 IMEA Generating Member of the Year award. (submitted photo)

Waterloo city officials were heaping praise all around Monday night at City Hall while announcing three recent award-winning efforts.

First, Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith and public works director Tim Birk informed the council that Waterloo was named the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency’s Generating Member of the Year during its annual awards banquet in Springfield on Nov. 30.

This is the first time Waterloo has received this award, Smith said.

“It’s a long time coming,” he said.

The award recognizes outstanding service in power generation. Factors considered include operating efficiency of the generating units, reliability in operation, improvements to generating facilities, adherence to proper maintenance procedures, proper staffing and the municipal electric department’s willingness to generate for the good of all agency members.

According to IMEA records, Waterloo scored the highest possible marks for reliability of operation, attention to rules and regulations and staff commitment.

In fact, the city’s electric department earned the highest ratings on every measure the agency tracks to make this award.

The Waterloo electric department serves more than 4,000 homes and 500 commercial and industrial accounts.

Birk credited longtime alderman and electric system committee chairman Charlie Metzger for all his guidance and efforts toward receiving this award.

Metzger deflected much of the praise back to Birk, who he called “the best public works director in the business.”

The Optimist Skate and Bicycle Park was named a Governor’s Cup finalist while earning a Governor’s Home Town Award in Springfield last week. Pictured, from left, are Adam Pollet, Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Waterloo Optimists Gene Henry and Shelby Mathes, Alderman Russ Thomas, Waterloo Community Relations coordinator Julie Yeager, and Mayor Tom Smith. (submitted photo)

The next outstanding accomplishment involved the recently opened skate and bicycle park, which received a Governor’s Home Town Award last week and was a finalist for this year’s coveted Governor’s Cup.

The Governor’s Home Town Awards recognize 30 projects statewide each year for use of community resources, volunteer efforts, local need, and results achieved.

The Waterloo Optimists worked with the Waterloo Park District and City of Waterloo to develop and construct the park, which opened in November 2011. The project involved 125 volunteers contributing 1,470 hours of their time, using $40,750 in donated materials and services and $88,000 in private funds raised.

Optimist Club officials have said they were recently notified that a neighbor of the skate park intends to file a lawsuit due to what they perceive as loud sounds coming from its patrons. No such lawsuit was on file at the Monroe County Courthouse as of Tuesday.

Also receiving a Governor’s Home Town Award this year was the Salt Lick Point Stewardship Committee of the Village of Valmeyer for its continued work with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Nature Preserves Commission on a land and water reserve, including removal of invasive species, assistance with controlled burns and other tasks.

The next award touted by Mayor Smith on Monday was an award for the recent Bellefontaine House spring beautification project completed earlier this year.

Smith said the project will be presented a second place national award at Keep America Beautiful’s 60th National Conference in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29.

The project was selected for its outstanding community involvement and beautification efforts.

In other news from Monday’s meeting, Birk shared information provided by the city’s water supplier, Illinois American Water, regarding its monitoring of declining water levels on the Mississippi River.

Illinois American said it has made “proactive preparations to ensure continued water supply” to its customers. This includes an estimated $400,000 investment at its East St. Louis water treatment plant for emergency pumping equipment to enable access at a deeper level in the river.

Birk also addressed questions from Alderman Jim Hopkins in regards to the Moore Street project. The project, which started in October with an expected completion next fall and involves the installation of 54-inch drainage pipes, drainage inlets and other features from Mill Street to Route 156, is a 180-day work contract, which doesn’t count weekends or holidays.

From now through the end of winter, Birk said, the project is in its “winter provision” phase, meaning any work done until spring doesn’t count against this 180-day contract.

Birk said a letter updating residents affected by the project may be sent out in the near future.

Waterloo Deputy Police Chief Mike Douglas and Alderman Rita Trantham told council members Monday night that police chief Jim Trantham is recovering from gall bladder surgery.

“Oh, he’s OK,” Rita Trantham said of her husband.

Mayor Smith said Chief Trantham will return to duty on Jan. 13. Douglas will serve as acting chief in his place.

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