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Snow, below zero and a water main break

Sheffield remedies problem

SHEFFIELD — The winter of 2013-14 has been the cause of many nuisances and headaches. Many of those annoyances have become so commonplace they are uncountable and hardly worth recounting. Last Friday, Mother Nature dealt the village of Sheffield maintenance crew a problem worth recounting.

The problem worth relating was the challenge involved in fixing a water main break buried deep below the rock solid frost line. The water main break was in the vicinity of the alley between Main and Washington streets.

Fixing the break was made even more difficult to resolve due to heavy snows, which began to accumulate Saturday.

The break, which was discovered around noon Friday, took until Sunday to fix. Village Mayor Bill Rosenow informed the village board Monday night the village maintenance crew soon realized that fixing the 4-inch waterline break would be difficult to remedy. The crew consisted of Leif Porter, Tom DeMay and Mike Minnaert. Rosenow offered logistical and phone support.

The water main break took an unusually long time to repair because the village lacked the equipment to speedily solve the problem due to the harsh weather conditions. The crew’s challenge was increased because it also didn’t know the exact location of the break. All the team knew was that the pipe had to be at least 4 feet below surface level. After a disappointing Friday afternoon of digging in the chilly weather, the maintenance crew halted at sundown. They went back at it Saturday making little progress. The village’s backhoe simply wasn’t up to the task of pounding through 33 inches of frost. Saturday’s efforts at resolution were further frustrated by yet another heavy snowfall. Rosenow told the council he and the crew left voicemails with neighboring villages and businesses to send in larger earth-moving equipment. Unfortunately, due to weekend schedules during which many businesses are closed, few calls were returned.

The crew kept at the problem undeterred by the weather and the frozen earth. They eventually turned the water line back on to thaw out the soil near the break. The crew finally located and fixed the leak Sunday.

Rosenow put a positive note on the challenge caused by Mother Nature. He said the village had gathered the names of contacts it can call on in the event of another such emergency. The village now knows of a business with a crawler in nearby Tiskilwa and another business in the Quad Cities that can locate a water line break to within 2 feet.

Because of the need to keep all available hands on the task, Rosenow was put behind the wheel of the village snow plow to keep streets clear during Saturday’s snow storm. Rosenow was quick to point out the time was entirely voluntary.

Rosenow further informed the board the village maintenance crew was aware of another small water leak located on South Reed Street.

Rosenow also told the board he received a call from Karl Rahr of the village library board concerning an issue with the library building. Rahr told Rosenow the library staff has noticed a sagging trim board in the vicinity of the library’s main ceiling. As the ceiling reaches a height of 14 feet, the library asked the village to get a trustee to take a look at the board and make a determination as to how to fix it. The library doesn’t have a ladder high enough to reach the ceiling. Trustee Jake Osborn said he would investigate the woodwork and report back to the board.

Rosenow said while the village owns the library building proper, the library is liable for repairs. The library would be liable because it has its own tax base.

In the complaint department, one trustee said he heard fears the tear down of the Smith property would result in a large hole once the existing structure was raised. Rosenow advised the board that such would not be the case. The lot would be cleared to ground level and any hole would be filled.

Another villager informed a trustee of concerns about the timeliness of dumpster emptying. Village Clerk Pat Stier said those with dumpsters are permitted 10 dumpster empties every two months. Anything beyond that amount needs to be cleared with the village superintendent.

One last concern was raised over the liability of the village for sidewalk repairs. Rosenow said property owners are not to fix sidewalks at their own expense and then bill the village. Any repairs to village property, such as a sidewalk, have to be approved by the village first.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 17.

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