Council discusses dam project delays

Suzette Lowe
Miss Ripley Fourth of July, Courtney Winter, performs her pageant promo for Ripley City Council.

Frustration and appreciation were the two overriding sentiments of the July 21 meeting of the Ripley City Council.

Delays in the ongoing dam project are becoming a source of aggravation. The low head dam on Mill Creek, which helped hold water for the water plant, began failing in 2019. A USDA grant was secured to construct a new dam directly downstream from the original.

For a while, progress was being made with some holdups occurring due to weather and other factors. But as chief water operator Jim Mitchum pointed out, there has been a long period of dry weather that could have enabled work to continue. Even with adjustments for COVID-19, it was expected that the project could move forward. Mitchum said little or no progress has been made in the past few months.

Mitchum reported that a meeting with the engineering company, the contractor and other parties was conducted recently. Dissatisfaction with FAMCO, the contractor, was expressed to the site supervisor who represented the company at the meeting. An extension to Aug. 28 was given for substantial completion with a target finish date for September 11. Mayor Carolyn Rader and the council requested that Mitchum contact FAMCO to send a representative “higher than the site supervisor” to the next council meeting.

On a lighter note, reigning Miss Ripley Fourth of July, Courtney Winter, presented the mayor with a picture from the Fourth of July pageant. She also gave a note of thanks to the City Council and mayor for all that they do for the city, including keeping patriotism alive and honoring veterans, police officers, and active-duty military.

Addressing the council, Winter expressed her appreciation, saying, “It’s a huge honor to represent Ripley. I am so blessed and humbled because this town has a huge place in my heart.”

City Attorney, Kevin Harris reported that after meeting with the Board of Zoning and Appeals, he will be writing and updating policies and procedures. In other zoning board matters, the council approved the appointment of Brian Johnson to replace board member Rachel Eckel.

In other business, council members Rick Buckley, Bryan Thompson, John McGinley, Danny Snyder, Carolyn Waybright, and Recorder David Casto heard the following updates:

• City Chief of Police Brad Anderson reported that 285 calls from the 911 Center alone had been received, a higher number than usual

• The water department has opened the valve at the dam due to dry weather

• Light poles are scheduled to be installed on South Court Street in the next week

• New sewer plant location will likely be moved from its original site due to core drilling samples

• Progress is being made with the radio-controlled car area at the Ripley City Park

• City pool closing date will be set at the Aug. 4 City Council meeting

• Aug. 10 will be a work meeting date for the council

• Approved a budget revision in the amount of $767,515

The next meeting of the Ripley City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the municipal building.