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Hiccups in sanitary sewer lining project persist

Council adjusts firearms ordinance to comply with new state law

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 2:35 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 2:43 p.m. CST
(Mike Mendenhall/Prairie City News)
A hole in North Monroe Street remains filled with gravel Friday after city crews repaired a ruptured sanitary sewer service connection early in July caused by work on the Northside Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation project. The company contracted to do the work, Municipal Pipe Tool of Hudson, came into Prairie City to complete work, caused the rupture and left the clean-up to city crews, according to Veenstra and Kimm engineer Sara Kappos.

Nearly three months after Hudson-based Municipal Pipe Tool Co., LLC was scheduled to complete Prairie City’s $812,000 sanitary sewer lining project, residents and city leaders are still waiting for work to be done.

A ruptured residential service connection spawned by last-minute grouting in early July, caused headaches for homeowners and motorists on North Monroe Street, shortly stopping sewer service and forcing street excavation.

In light of the incident, the city council voted unanimously to table an $11,350 payment to Municipal Pipe Tool at its July 13 regular meeting.

The company has also requested the city stop liquidated damages in the project May 10, which would be $3,000. The council delayed that decision until the city engineer can make contact with the company’s representatives.

Municipal Pipe Tool workers quietly returned to Prairie City July 12 to grout one last service line on North Monroe Street, when their work clogged the connection and it ruptured. This forced city workers to excavate the line, digging up a section of the street.

“They left that to city staff to take care of, left town and said send us a bill,” said Sara Kappos, engineer for Veenstra & Kimm, Inc. “... Apparently, the contractor was back in town, unbeknownst to myself or Carl (Van Der Kamp), completing grouting of a service line. I can only assume they discovered they missed it in the quality control process putting together the final reports I’ve been waiting on. They have not returned any of my phone calls about this.”

Kappos said instead of admitting and communicating its mistake with city staff and engineers, the company sent its workers back to Prairie City to fix the issue.

The original completion date of the project was July 29, 2016. The city then made changes to the scope of the sewer lining and extended the company’s deadline to Feb. 28.

Municipal Pipe Tool was not able to meet this date, and accepted a reduced bill for its services in exchange for a two-month extension. A torrential rain which infiltrated some of the lining pushed the project back in its final stages, and the company returned June 9 to compete some final grouting.

The damaged connection was repaired July 13, and gravel was applied to make the street drivable. But the road still needs to be paved. According to the city’s contract with the Hudson-based company, Prairie City is allowed to withhold two-times the amount of the damage claim.

The city is also withholding $40,000 in retainer from the company until the city engineer is satisfied and city council votes to accept the job as complete. This is an agreed upon amount in the contract.

As of the council meeting, Municipal Pipe Tool has still not submitted their report and video televising of the line to the city engineer for final quality inspection.

This was not the first time during the lining project the city council has withheld payment to Municipal Pipe Tool due to complaints. In February, the council declined to pay a $135,900 bill when the company was refusing to pay some Prairie City residents’ damage claims related to fluid “blowback” into homes coming directly from the lining process.


The council also voted 5-0 in July to amend the city ordinance governing Prairie City’s weapons regulations. The change removes the word “firearm.” This is a direct result of the new state firearms law passed in the 2017 Iowa legislative session.

The new state law dictates cities can no longer bar legal carry of firearms on their properties, including city parks. Citizens will still need a permit to carry from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office to possess their firearm in the city’s parks.

The state law, however, does not address other weapons. The updated ordinance will continue to restrict carrying air guns and bows and arrows in city parks.

In other action July 12, the council:

• voted 5-0 to donate an old cascade machine to the Mingo Fire Department. The Prairie City Fire Department recently purchased a new cascade machine, and were informed by the dealer the old machine had no trade-in value.

The city council will meet again for its next regular city council meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at city hall.

Contact Mike Mendenhall at mmendenhall@myprairiecitynews.com

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