Good Neighbor honored for heroic efforts

Pictured, from left, are house fire victims Brian and Leah Young, Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith, Good Neighbor Award recipient Frank Weber, and Alderman Kyle Buettner and Mike Lloyd from the Waterloo Fire Department. 

A man out for his morning run was honored by the Waterloo City Council for heroic efforts in alerting a family of an early September house fire.

The Good Neighbor Award was presented to Frank Weber Monday night at City Hall. 

Weber was running in the area of 1344 Summerfield Drive at about 4:15 a.m. Sept. 3 and saw smoke coming from the residence. He alerted homeowners Brian and Leah Young, who were able to exit the burning home safely.

“The situation could have had deadly consequences,” Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said. “Your outstanding citizenship and alertness has earned you the title of Good Neighbor.”

Smith presented a JV’s Downtown Bar & Grill gift certificate to Weber as part of the award.

Waterloo Assistant Fire Chief Mike Lloyd also had kind words for Weber.

“By the time we got the page to the time we got on scene was eight minutes,” Lloyd said. “That saved a lot of stuff, and them. We really appreciate it.”

The homeowners were also on hand Monday night to offer thanks. 

“We’re just very thankful,” Leah Young said.

“This is what makes Waterloo a great place is having outstanding people like you in the community that wants to get involved, not willing just to walk away and say ‘hey, that’s not my problem,’” Smith added.

Alderman Kyle Buettner, also a member of the fire department, concluded this award ceremony with some humor.

“The most impressive thing after Frank did all that is he went and finished his run that morning,” Buettner said.

In action taken Monday night, aldermen approved the execution of a confidential settlement and release agreement between the city and Symmetry Energy Solutions, its natural gas supplier, regarding an exorbitant natural gas rate charged in February.

“We will not be billing our residents for what took place in February,” Alderman Steve Notheisen summarized.

“They paid their normal bill,” Smith added.

Beginning on or about Feb. 11, Winter Storm Uri deeply impacted the energy industry throughout the Midwest and Texas, freezing natural gas wellheads and wind turbines and creating a major disruption of energy supply throughout the region. As the storm grew in intensity, the energy situation went from bad to desperate.

The price of natural gas was about 20 times higher than normal during this period. The city’s natural gas bill for February came in at $1,190,000, when the normal bill would have been around $214,000. 

This was due to both an extremely high cost of gas as well as penalties imposed by Enable MRT, the interstate pipeline system that delivers gas to Waterloo, the city stated in a news release earlier this year.

After meetings to discuss the matter, the city initially decided to pay its gas supplier only the undisputed portion of the utility bill that was due March 29 while seeking legal advice on what to do with the additional amount.

The city opted to bill residents then at what would have been a normal February while it protested the overall bill from Symmetry plus penalties.

As part of the agreement approved Monday night, the city is paying the remaining amount to Symmetry using emergency funds from its gas fund.

In other action, the council approved an agreement between the city and Western Egyptian for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Low Income Home Water Assistance Program. 

Residents can apply for this program through Western Egyptian.

The council also approved two memorandums of understanding for its police department with the Monroe County Emergency Telephone System Board regarding mobile data terminals and cellular data services. 

The next city council meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at City Hall. 

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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