A 3rd major event at Northfield’s Wastewater Treatment plant leaves plenty of lingering questions. On Tuesday morning, a pipe break led city staff to dump a million gallons of sewage water into the Cannon River affecting river activities from Hwy 3 downriver to Lake Byllesby. Dakota County officials closed the beach on Tuesday and warned everyone to have no direct contact with Lake Byllesby water. The City confirmed elevated levels of bacteria. Additional sampling and testing is being conducted. In January, a pipe plug failure flooded the plant with
5 feet of water. Public Works Director, Dave Bennett said, at that time that 400 gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled onto the ground. He estimated $200,000 worth of damage. Then came the fire in late May that destroyed the pasteurization vessel in the biosolids building resulting in $5 million in damage and, an estimated $1 million in trucking out sludge until that can be fixed, which could be a year. The actual cause of the fire has not been determined, according to Bennett. Now this latest pipe failure affecting river activities for many. Bennett said the plant is running at critical to stable condition. Employees are manually operating the equipment. There have been several Public Works employees who have left since Bennett reorganized staff when he accepted the Director position in August of 2015, following Joe Stapf. Some sources have raised concerns regarding the number of staff at the treatment plant and the level of knowledge they have of the operations. Administrator Martig assures KYMN that that facility is fully staffed with trained employees. Martig said there were 8 to 10 on the scene along with contractors on site. Martig, Mayor Pownell and Bennett will be in studio tomorrow morning at 7:20 with more information. PLEASE NOTE RESPONSE FROM ADMIN MARTIG:
Kymn: Following staff transitions we are down:We have had two resignations that are open at this time and over the course of these events. Wastewater Plant Supervisor (was here during the first two events but not the most recent one) and Wastewater Plant Operator 2 (here for all 3 events and working through July 13). These resignations are related to transitioning work to another employer and have nothing to do with these events. We are able to fully cover during these vacancies and are working. The changes made above make us stronger in managing transitions than in 2014.
Kymn:Due to transitions, we have less experience; We have an extremely experienced and knowledgeable staff. Our Utilities Manager has been in the position for a year and a half. However, he started as a temporary employee in 2008 and has risen within the organization and was intentionally trained as a succession plan for our prior Utilities Manager who retired. We are fortunate to have him working for us. Our other staff is extremely knowledgeable and experienced as well.
“Recent events at the wastewater plant are unrelated unfortunate events. We have adequate staffing levels at the plant with strong experience, knowledge and skills. None of these events had anything to do with a lack of staffing levels. “ Ben Martig, City Administrator 7-5-18
Parents advocate “graceful interdependence” for disabled and community
Services for kids and adults with developmental disabilities are quite different. Betsy Spethmann and her husband, Jim Rossow, have two children. Their adult son has multiple disabilities. While Laura Baker Services offers much, they cannot meet all the needs and once the disabled person reaches 21, Spethmann says, “there is a cliff on services and direction and support, and families are on their own. There’s a saying that, kids who finish high school go to college or go to work and kids with disabilities go home to their bedroom”. She said families here are struggling with that, often one parent quits their job to care for their child. The second misperception is that employment is the solution, “but it isn’t. The real solution for young adults with disabilities is engagement and that means meaningful activity and connection to people”. She said some parents have created entrepreneurial opportunities such as lawn care or delivery service, but the issue with that is, what happens when the parents are no longer there. Rossow has set up Artmakers Productions with their son, “we do a wide range of arts activities during the day where we connect up people with disabilities with people from the general community and artists from the general community and we work on artistic activities together”. The PROCESS of the production, or any art form they choose, is really the most important piece, the engagement. One other misperception is that the goal is to “launch” these individuals to independence. Spethmann says, it’s not, adding, “our whole culture would do better if we thought about graceful interdependence rather than promoting independence, because independence is really just another word for alone”. Spethmann and Rossow are advocating for a community based initiative, a “Guardians Council”,wherein the community reaches out with a variety of engagement opportunities. Listen to their full interview on kymnradio.net.
I-35 single lane traffic to bring delays
Motorists on I-35 near Faribault will encounter single lane, head to head traffic, reamp detours and traffic delays beginning July 9th. Crews will pave approximately 4 miles of southbound I-35 between Co. Rd. 9 to Hwy 21. The full press release is on kymnradio.net. The $8 million project is expected to last till Fall.