Toulon lift station progress criticized

For The Prairie News

TOULON – Progress on a new sanitary lift station, or the lack thereof, was a hot topic at the latest meeting of the Toulon City Council.

When city engineer Ed Andrews told the council he did not have an exact date when Stark Construction would start moving dirt for the new sanitary sewer system, Mayor Larry Hollis asked, “What about the fabrication of the lift station itself?”

Andrews replied that the USEMCO [the fabricator] package is “progressing.”

Hollis then asked, “They don’t have a date when that’ll be finished, either?”

Andrews went into an overall project construction explanation, but did not answer the question.

“Well, I’m glad that the IEPA [Illinois Environmental Protection Agency] and the health department are happy with the progress, but I don’t know that we’re happy with the progress,” Hollis said.

Added council member Jason Musselman, “There’s nothing that’s viewable to any of the people that there has been progress since last time. And, I’ve had more people angry that are on there [the affected sewer line area] that have pumped [their septic tanks] again and again.”

According to one resident who attended the council meeting, that family has paid approximately $3,800 in septic tank emptying fees since the onset of this situation because they have disconnected their septic tank to keep it from discharging into the sewer line. Their cost is around $200 a month for emptying their septic tank every two weeks.

Musselman pointed out that the project is well into the contract time and, with the onset of winter, it appears that a March date would be plausible for construction to begin.

“I’m very frustrated with the pace of this [project],” Musselman said.

Hollis said that it appears that the frustrating part is that the city is obligated to be at the manufacturer’s timeline and that it can’t be sped up.

“What are we waiting on, who are we waiting on, is it Stark or is it the State?” asked council member Connie Jacobson.

Andrews said part of the delay is due to the contractor/manufacturer waiting to obtain materials. This generated multiple responses from the council.

“When did we sign this – [last] June or July?” Musselman asked Andrews, who said that the approval was at last June’s meeting and the contract execution was at the end of July. “Six months! And we’ve had nothing [done]!” Musselman exclaimed.

Hollis told Andrews, “You need to pass on our frustrations.”

In the meantime, residents affected by this situation continue to pay to have their septic tanks regularly emptied.

In other business, the council passed a new raffle ordinance; set New Year’s Eve hours for 1 a.m. last call for bars with a 1:30 a.m. closing time; set Christmas bonuses for city employees; approved 2022 council meeting dates and times; approved expenditures for obtaining police department equipment; agreed to sell a recently obtained property at 413 E. Jefferson Street after an appraisal is completed; and discussed holding a special meeting concerning the city’s water treatment plant’s aerator.

The council approved a time change to 6 from 6:30 p.m. for council meetings to begin, effective with the Jan. 10, 2022 meeting. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of the month.