City of Valley Falls asked to explore renewable energy

by Clarke Davis

Mayor Charles Stutesman and the city council were asked if they would like to see Valley Falls become a “mini Greensburg” regarding the use of renewable energy sources at the Oct. 6 meeting.

Robert Sirridge, rural Valley Falls, is proposing the city businesses work together to install solar panels on the business buildings and begin reaping the rewards of lower energy costs.

“I came to see how Valley Falls would react to that,” he said. “One has to start somewhere.”

He said state and federal grants and tax benefits are knocking nearly 40 percent off the installation cost, noting that the clock is ticking as those benefits are timed to expire.

Sirridge said he would not be the one selling or profiting from the commercial installations, but he is a dealer for residential solar and wind turbines.

He asked the council if it would be interested in placing a solar panel on city hall.

“Give me the numbers,” was the reply from Mayor Charles Stutesman.

Sirridge said he would obtain the utility costs currently paid by the city and the library and bring the costs and benefits back.

Ann Clark, Valley Falls, made a return visit to city hall to ask about the progress of developing a program to help poor people fix up their property.

When she called the first time, no one was aware of such a progam that had been discussed during the Susan Grey administration but never acted upon.

The idea at that time was to approach people whose property is rundown not with a citation and court action, but rather financial assistance and volunteer help to put things in order.

That brought up the question of the availability of funding. The groundwork for a community foundation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status has been done by the Valley Falls Rotary Club but it is lying dormant with no money.

Rotary member Gary Coleman said the framework is set up through a Douglas County foundation, but there have never been any donations accepted to activate it locally. To make it affordable, the local foundation would need to make an investment of at least $10,000 to it. Once funded a local board would be established to govern it.

The mayor promised Clark he would review the history and try to find out what had transpired in regards to the program.

Council members present were Lucy Thomas, Tony Trower, Mark Boyce, and Mike Hahn. Paul Burns was present for the early session with the new administrator, but left before the regular meeting.

Other business items included:

  • A representative from the Jefferson County Humane Society is expected to attend the Oct. 20 meeting. It was reported the city had a dog to impound, but the shelter was full.
  • John Kearney of Kearney & Son Construction is expected at the next meeting to advise the city on what to do about the business building at 417 Broadway that is crumbling.
  • Also on that agenda will be the city’s engineering firm, Professional Engineering Consultants, that is offering to do a study of the sewer lagoons for $25,000 in an effort to resolve a number of problems there. The mayor believes a study of water infiltration into the system also needs to be done.
  • Approved hiring American Surveying, Oskaloosa, to survey a few properties in Valley Falls reportedly in the flood plain. The city will meet with property owners and has agreed to pay half the survey cost.
  • Heard from Doug Helmke of the Kansas Rural Water District who has been helping the city deal with a state agency concerning water rights applications. Because the city is connected to two water districts the state is asking the city to pay $600 in some kind of application fees. Helmke thinks a letter explaining the situation might exempt the city.

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Posted by on Oct 16 2010. Filed under Government, Municipalities, Valley Falls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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