SCOTT: Winchester signs agreement with Constellation Energy
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By Carmen Ensinger
Winchester electric customers who want to choose who provides their electric service should be watching their bill in the coming months as the city of Winchester signed an agreement with Constellation New Energy to be the electric provider for the city.
Winchester Mayor Rex McIntire explained the situation to the council.
“You gave me the authority some time ago to go into an agreement when it came time sign an agreement for electric aggregation,” he said. “Last year, the company that we use couldn’t compete with Ameren, so we didn’t have an alternate supplier. The other day I got a call from Reg Ankrom and signed an agreement with Constellation New Energy.”
Most people are confused by electric aggregation. Municipalities, such as Winchester, who choose electric aggregation, do so for every customer within their municipality. This means that no matter who is providing your electric now, unless you opt out, whenever the agreement with Constellation New Energy takes effect, they will be providing your electric.
However, customers have every right to choose whomever they want to provide their electric service. All they have to do is to opt-out. They can choose to stay with Ameren or choose one of the many other providers of electric out there.
McIntire said while the aggregation isn’t going to provide customers with a huge savings, it will provide them with some stability.
“The savings is only seven-tenths of a penny per kilowatt hour, which isn’t much,” he said. “But the nice thing is that the price is locked in for 18 months. Ameren has been raising and raising their rates and with this, we will be locked into the same rate for 18 months. I thought it was the best thing to do. You will still get billed through Ameren and you can opt-out and go back to Ameren if you like.”
Christmas came early for Superintendent of Public Works John Simmons who had everything on a long list of items approved by the council.
First on his list was a power washer at a cost of $6,800.
“This is something we really need to try to keep our equipment cleaner,” Simmons said. “This is a super high pressure hot water model with a one year warranty on the washer, five year warranty on the heat core and a seven year warranty on the pump.”
The next item was a chemical transfer pump for the water plant at a cost of $1,949.95.
“The one we were using down there, we had to take it to the pool because theirs wasn’t holding up,” Simmons said. “These chemical transfer pumps usually cost a couple hundred bucks, but this one is chemical resistant and it is going to last us a lot longer than the cheaper models.”
The third item on the list was the purchase of two four-inch water meters for the water plant at a cost of $6,500, which includes installation.
“For years Randy (Ford) got along with out them, but, legally, we have to have them,” Simmons said. “This meters the water from the wells to the plant.”
The next request was for the repair of the heating air system at the water plant by Peterson Heating and Air Conditioning at a cost of $2,735, which includes parts and labor.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble with the unit down there because it was made in Canada and trying to get parts has been a nightmare,” Simmons said. “This is to replace the dehumidifier system.”
The next request was for four 18 inch by 18 inch plastic grates for the pool at a cost of $1,116.68.
“The ones in there now are more than 10 years old,” Simmons said. “They have to be replaced by this next season if we are going to be able to open the pool.”
The next item wasn’t really a purchase – only a rental. Simmons requested to rent the VAC truck for another month at a cost of $4,500.
“We are going to need this truck for at least another month,” Simmons said.
The VAC truck is a truck that uses high pressure water to “dig” holes and then sucks the water out. The city is using this to check for lead service lines leading into homes as it is much safer than trying to dig for the lines and taking a chance of puncturing the line.
Finally, the council approved 100 inches of manhole extensions at a cost of $2,970. These have already been purchased and most of them already installed.
Simmons told the council that with all of the projects he currently has going on, that he could use some additional help.
“We have been replacing the lead service lines to the houses and there are a lot of other things that we have to keep up with as well,” he said. “We have to have the gas meters changed out by April and it can’t be put off any longer. Plus cemetery cleanup will start soon.”
After some discussion, the council agreed to offer a full time temporary position to Ryan Moore at a salary of $16 per hour.
Last month, the council discussed amending its employee handbook in order to recognize giving employees a certain amount of time for bereavement leave as well as maternity/paternity leave.
Alderman Terry Gregory, who was head of the committee looking into this matter, said she conferred with Greene County to see what their policy was.
“After talking with them, we kind of recommend giving our employees two days of bereavement leave, with pay, but continuing with the guidelines stipulated in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA),” she said. “For one thing, its not quite fair when only people of a certain age group can take advantage of the latter, but everyone will benefit from the bereavement clause.”
McIntire gave the council an update on Looking for Lincoln.
“I had a meeting on Feb. 15 to discuss what the city has to do to become a Looking for Lincoln city and quite a bit has to be done,” McIntire said. “First of all, we have to form a committee to show that we are legitimately a Lincoln community. It takes several months to get done.”
McIntire said he talked to Merrilyn Fedder and asked her if she would head up this committee.
“I also thought about asking some of the people on the library board,” McIntire said. “Also maybe some of those on the Museum Board to be on this board.”
McIntire said that Bob and Donna Hurt of Glasgow won the raffle for the barbeque in the shape of a pig. The raffle netted a little over $1,000 to go towards the purchase of the Lincoln statue that the city plans to purchase for Douglas Park. Added to the $3,000 donation made by Emery and Joy Wood and they have a little over $4,000 towards the statue.
Police Chief Steve Doolin said that there have been a number of vandalism cases and they all seem to be occurring in the same location – the house on McGlasson Drive.
“I approached the housing about putting up cameras and while they can’t buy them and put them up, they won’t prohibit them if we put them up,” Doolin said. “With the things that are going on out there, I think it would be a great idea. The housing even said they would mount the cameras for us.”
Doolin also gave an update on the interview room he plans to construct in the police station. This room with be 23 feet by 12 feet and will be located in the front of the building where billing was located.
Doolin estimates the materials to construct the wall to be around $500 and the camera system to be around $1,750 for a total of $2,250.
By law, when interviewing a juvenile, the police have to videotape the interview. They currently have to go to the Sheriff’s Department to do any interviewing that requires the use of video.
The council also approved Doolin’s request to hire Brady Schelts as a police officer and send him to the full-time Police Academy.
City Attorney John Paul Coonrod presented the city with a proposal for the renaming of one of the three Elm streets in town.
The city had originally planned on renaming the street in front of the high school, but met with staunch opposition from Superintendent Kevin Blankenship who said it would cause major headaches in having to redo everything with the change of address.
So, the city scrapped this idea. Coonrod, however, came up with a last minute idea that would not only solve the city’s problem, but also honor a long-time resident who had recently passed away.
“The idea came to me that we could call this particular street Fedder Street after Elmer Fedder who we just lost a few days ago,” Coonrod said. “It seems to dovetail pretty nicely.”
The street in questions is the Elm Street which runs north and south between Cross and Cherry streets and located one block east of Arch Street and one block West of Elm Street.
The street is a short street with no houses facing it. This fact bothered Alderwoman Terry Gregory.
“The only thing that I thought about is that it is not a very nice street to name after him,” she said.
Mayor McIntire disagreed.
“I think it would be an excellent gesture and I don’t think Elmer would have wanted a main thoroughfare named after him. The way everything has worked out, it was like it was meant to be.”
Alderman Bill Jacquot announced that the pool board had met on Monday Feb. 27 and there were some announcements to be made.
“The Pool Board will be accepting applications for a pool manager and an assistant manager and the deadline for these applications is April 28,” Jacquot said. “They have set opening day for May 27.”
They are also looking for lifeguards.