By CHELSEA DAVIS Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — New communications equipment will soon sit atop the Memorial Park water tower.
At its meeting Tuesday night, the City Council approved the emergency purchase of new radios, antennas and related equipment to be secured on the water tower.
After lightning struck the tower a month ago, the equipment used to communicate with the city's pump stations was damaged.
While Councilman Mitch Niner had concerns that the auto dialers were "going off wrongly because they're sharing frequencies so close to others," Public Works Director Larry Seals said he's not sure that's the case.
"Are we going to go on a separate frequency now with the new radios or are we going to continue to fight what we're fighting?" Niner asked.
Seals said it's not so much a frequency issue as it is a "line of sight" issue. He said sharing frequencies with other entities was not a problem when the equipment was purchased.
The council also approved plans to construct a wildlife fence at Ottumwa Regional Airport. Crews will construct a 10-foot chain-link fence to help keep deer out of the area.
While the entire project is estimated to cost nearly $914,000, a Federal Aviation Administration grant will reimburse the city for 90 percent of the project cost.
"In 2010, the USDA was hired to do a wildlife hazard assessment and determined that a 10-foot fence with a three-strain barbed wire was the best remedy for deer," said Dustin Leo, civil engineer at Snyder and Associates. "When it comes to the cost of the fence, most of the cost is in the labor of installing it rather than the cost of the fence."
The City Council also approved the contracts for two school resource officers at Ottumwa High School and one at Evans Middle School.
Councilman Brian Morgan asked if there was any discussion of a part-time school resource officer at the new elementary school, Liberty, which opens this fall.
"There has been very little discussion," said Police Chief Tom McAndrew. "I did talk to the superintendent about that, but he decided he didn't want to participate in it this first year. But I think with everything happening in the country, it's becoming a big deal and in another year it could be included in this grant."
City Attorney Joni Keith also noted that the city will likely go to trial against the escort vehicle company and driver that struck the Eisenhower Pedestrian Bridge in April 2011.
"The driver of the vehicle as well as the escort vehicle ... are fighting between each other as to who's responsible instead of somebody coming forth and getting us paid," Keith said.
— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.