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Feature Stories for November 16, 2000

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
The Crown Point Network offers a sneak preview of weekly cover stories.

Phase I water program to be done February
Soda Ash, CO2 to help fix Lowell water problems

By Kathie Godfrey 
Star Correspondent

LOWELL - Just one week after the referendum that could have transformed Lowell into a city was defeated, frustrated, angry residents packed the council chambers Monday to register their ongoing water woes with the town's elected officials. 
  Bearing a pitted saucepan less than a week old, Charles Albin said the town's acidic water had rusted two brand-new sets of stainless steel cookware in a month. 
    "What is my wife supposed to cook dinner with?" he asked the council. 
    Albin asserted that the town's interim filter program - in which whole house filtration systems and replacement filters will be provided to residents free of charge - would do nothing to remove acid from residential tap water. 
    Albin asked the council how long the proposed fix for the town's water system would take. 
    Mark Downey of Commonwealth Engineering said phase I of the improvement project, which would add soda ash to the water to stabilize its alkalinity and reduce its corrosive effect on pipes, had a completion date of February 2001. Phase II of the project which would deliver carbon dioxide to the town's water supply in an effort to permanently correct the town's aggressive water problems would not be complete until late summer 2001. 
    Proposals for the projects would be submitted in the next few weeks in an effort to secure state financing, he added. 
    But other residents were not happy with that answer. 
    Ben Fortner, who presented the council with a three page petition signed by residents, asked if funds for the proposed filter program could by used instead for a reverse osmosis system for the town's water supply. 
    "I've been here since 1994," Fortner said. "If I had looked at the water here, I'd have moved south and dug by own well." 
    Ann Corie of 1202 Hilltop Drive asked what could be done to recoup the cost of ruined appliances, $150 monthly water bills and $50 cleaning supply bills her family had been faced with. 



    "I have to go to Apple Valley once a week to have my hair washed," she said. "My family has been through hell." 
    "I'm getting mad," said Dean Henry of 408 W. Hilltop Ct., "Years ago we could have had reverse osmosis at the plant. You're still riding a dead horse." 
    But Town Council President Bob Hatch (R-3rd), defended his negative vote on the reverse osmosis proposal put to a previous council of which he had been part.
    "I decided that it was the right thing to do based on the information I had at the time," Hatch explained. "And I still feel it was the right decision." Hatch added that bond investment in the current water plant would prevent the town from changing to a RO system now. 
    Director of Administration Rick Dal Corobbo said the town had received 198 water filter request forms from residents including 25 requests for replacement filters from homes that already have filtration systems in place. Requests for filtration systems and replacement filters can be registered at the town hall until Nov. 22.  


Crown Point opts not to renew garbage pact
Board of works seeks better, cheaper deal for trash service

By Andrew Steele 
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - The Board of Public Works decided last week not to renew the city's contract with garbage collector Illiana Disposal, but instead to put the service out to bid to try to get a better price. 
    The current two-year contract was signed in 1998 and gives the city the option to extend it for two additional years. 
    This year, the city is paying $8.84 per house for garbage collection. Next year's price would be $9.19 and 2002's would be $9.56, if the city opted for the two extensions. 
    Jeanann Georgas Ficker, who consults city officials on waste matters, said those charges are higher than Illiana's average charge in other area communities. 
    "I am concerned that Crown Point does not have a lower than average price from Illiana given that Illiana is right here in Crown Point," Ficker said. 
    Mayor James Metros said he's gotten letters this year from other area waste haulers, including Able Disposal, Waste Management, and Performance Waste, who are interested in bidding on the service. Metros said that he is happy with Illiana's service, but "we have a window of opportunity every two years to say 'are we getting the best price?'
    "I am a little concerned we are (paying) a little above the average," he said. "I think we can get a better deal, even from the same company." 
    But in order to give companies enough time to prepare bids, the city will have to ask Illiana officials to extend the current contract at least two months. 
    And whether or not the current deal is extended for the shorter period is Illiana's decision. 
    Also at the Nov. 8 meeting, the board approved an automatic bank withdrawal program for paying municipal utility bills. 
    Application forms for the program are available at the clerk-treasurer's office during business hours and at the Police Department any time. 
    Applications forms must be turned in by the fifth day of a month for automatic withdrawal to being the next billing. Deductions will be made automatically on the ninth day of the month bills are due.



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