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City hires financial manager

By NICK NARIGON

The City of Marengo has hired a new financial manager.

Christine Fettkether, 54, Marengo, will replace Barb Barrick as the City of Marengo financial manager. The Marengo City Council approved Fettkether’s hire Sept. 28. Her first day will be Oct. 5.

Fettkether is originally from Rolphe, in northwest Iowa. She served on the Rolphe city council for four years and spent two years as the city treasurer.

She has a high school diploma and some college experience, and has over 30 years of experience in banking.

Most recently, Fettkether worked as a cash receivables associate for General Electric in Cedar Rapids, a position she started last February.

Prior to that she was a vice president at a bank in Colfax.

“I have experience in finance and banking. I have done a lot of bank accruals and I have worked with regulatory examiners,” Fettkether said.

She moved to Marengo in 2005 when she married Larry Fettkether. Christine was driving 140 miles to and from Colfax every day and was looking for something closer.

The position as the financial manager for the City of Marengo works well for Fettkether, because she is able to stay close to home and use her banking knowledge.

“I enjoy working with numbers and finance. I enjoy the banking side,” Fettkether said. “I am able to walk to work and get to know the community better. It’s hard when you work outside the community, you don’t get to know people as well. It will be nice to be able to put some names to faces.”

WELLS

The Marengo City Council will pay $16,950 to clean the city’s wells.

The cleaning is meant to combat high levels of iron bacteria that has been discoloring the city’s drinking water.

The city will pay Layne Christiansen Company, Grimes, to rehabilitate the city’s drinking water wells, which went into operation a little over one year ago.

“This is a problem we have been battling for a year now,” said Marengo City Administrator Brent Nelson. “It is not going to get any better unless we do something about it.”

Marengo City Engineer Dave Schechinger, Veenstra and Kimm, Inc., said Layne Christiansen Company ran a full scale analysis on the city’s water system and determined a high level of iron bacteria was collecting in all three of the city’s wells. The iron bacteria does not pose a health risk, but does discolor the city’s water, Schechinger said.

Schechinger said in order to clean the wells, the company will remove the pump from the well and perform a field inspection. The well depth will be checked and any fill material will be bailed from the well.

They will introduce 500 gallons of Layne QC-21/acid solution into the well, which is effective in removing mineral crustation from the screen, gravel pack and surrounding formation.

The solution will be surged and then the chemical will be neutralized and pumped to waste. They will then give the wells a final chlorine treatment.

Schechinger said the treatment is predicted to be effective for one to three years. He said the city can take a few extra measures to extend the life of the treatment to three to five years.

“Unfortunately without having a lot of information on what is naturally occurring and how quickly it builds up, we can’t say for certain how long it will last,” Schechinger said. “Once it is clean we can monitor it and try to keep it at lower levels.”

In addition to improving the quality of water, he said the treatment will also prolong the life of the city’s wells.

“(The iron bacteria) also has a corrosive affect on the material in there as it builds up on it. So it could start to corrode those screens and we would have to replace those screens eventually,” Schechinger said.

Marengo Public Works Director Lonnie Altenhofen said the iron bacteria was present in the city’s former wells, just never in all three at the same time. In the past, Altenhofen said the city cleaned the wells periodically to remove iron bacteria.

Schechinger said when the new wells were drilled, certain factors determined their location. First, they looked at water quality available in the area they were given. Secondly, Schechinger said there was an old gas station on Miller Street that created a plume.

“That is the reason we were trying to keep everything closer to the levee was that we wanted to stay away from that plume and prevent any risk of that plume being drawn into those wells,” he said. “(The wells) were the ones with the best water quality that were furthest away from the plume that’s on the available site. That is how we came up with the location.”

Schechinger said there was quite a bit of testing done on the wells, however they did not test for iron bacteria. “When you go through that process, you don’t test for everything. You test for the ones that have health concerns and other major issues,” he said. “Things like this you just have to treat. There is really nothing you can do about it.”

The iron bacteria is present in the aquifer and it will grow when oxygen is introduced. The only option the city would have to prevent the growth of the iron bacteria is to dig the wells deeper, which  would cost approximately $1 million per well, Schechinger said.

“We are looking at the options and this is certainly the lowest cost option. Just put the wells in and try to maintain the iron bacteria at reasonable levels,” Schechinger said.

FEES

The City of Marengo will increase the fees it charges for use of city equipment. The Marengo City Council approved the increase in fees Sept. 28.

Nelson said the city will increase the fees for services the public works department provides, such as mowing lawns, the use of the city back hoe, etc.

“Technically we don’t make any money going down there and mowing somebody’s yard. We are just covering our costs,” Nelson said. “There needs to be somewhat of a penalty. And these aren’t over the top. These are reasonable rates. We just need to recoup some of the cost.”

The following charges increased:

• Use of a breaker, pavement, attachment increased from $20 an hour to $40 an hour;

• Use of the brush chipper increased from $30 an hour to $40 an hour;

• Use of a concrete saw increased from $15 an hour to $40 an hour;

• Use of a backhoe increased from $60 an hour to $80 an hour;

• Use of a riding mower increased from $15 an hour to $40 an hour;

• Use of a trailer increased from $6 an hour to $20 an hour;

• Use of a dump truck increased from $50 an hour to $80 an hour;

• Use of a tractor increased from $45 an hour to $80 an hour.

UPDATED September 30, 2009 12:35 PM

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