Belle emergency meeting results in critical infrastructure purchase

By Roxie Murphy, Assistant Editor
Posted 2/1/24

Approval to purchase a new $13,945.45 well motor for Belle’s Mitchem Ave. water tower was granted during a special meeting at 10:45 a.m. this morning (Feb. 1) during an emergency board …

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Belle emergency meeting results in critical infrastructure purchase


Update at 3:45 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2024

Mayor Pro Tem James (Pudd) Mitchell said on Thursday afternoon around 3:20 p.m. that the new motor for the well on Mitchem Ave. is scheduled to leave Olive Branch, Miss., tomorrow (Feb. 2) at 8:30 a.m. with B4 Logistics.

“I got a really good rate to have it shipped here,” Mitchell said. “It will be delivered to Belle tomorrow afternoon. B&H Well Drilling will be here tomorrow and we will have the old well motor out and the new one will go in as soon as it gets here.”

The city of Belle posted on Jan. 31 on its Facebook page that due to a high voltage surge, the pump was out. They are asking residents to continue to conserve water until the new parts are installed.

Approval to purchase a new $13,945.45 well motor for Belle’s Mitchem Ave. water tower was granted during a special meeting at 10:45 a.m. this morning (Feb. 1) during an emergency board meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem James (Pudd) Mitchell called the emergency open-session meeting, which was posted at 10:30 a.m. by Charro Reasor, city treasurer, for “emergency weather tower purchase and approval of main water equipment.”

Along with Mitchell, Aldermen Emily Williams and Barb Howarth were present to form a quorum. Public works employees Darrin Guinn, Clay Ridenhour, and former city official Steve Vogt were also present.

“The reason we are having this meeting as an emergency is because we need a new motor on our well and we need to approve the purchase of a new one-hundred-horse motor,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got the existing motor in St. Louis and they are supposed to be calling us with the total price of what it's gonna cost to rebuild it and then we will have it for a spare. We are waiting to hear from the factory if they’ve got somebody that can hotshot the new motor here or we’re gonna have to go after it.”

Ridenhour said he spoke with the company and was told they may be able to meet someone in Poplar Bluff tomorrow.

“It’s already getting too late today to get it today,” Ridenhou said. “So he is thinking maybe that guy could meet us in Poplar Bluff tomorrow. That’s not per definite. That’s through (B4 Logistics).”

The city could use its ARPA money to pay for the cost of purchasing the new motor, its transport, installation, and any labor costs involved.

“We have up to $174,000 in ARPA money,” Williams said.

Vogt told the board that because the purchase is over $10,000, they will need to note in the minutes that the items couldn’t wait to be sent out for bid because it was an emergency purchase.

“You don’t have time to get the three bids because it’s an emergency,” Vogt said.

B&H Well Drilling said they would come and help us pull the old motor and put the new one in,” Mitchell said.

“They said that would cost $200 an hour with a four-hour minimum,” Ridenhour said. “If it goes over that it is obviously $200 an hour. But I firmly believe that we can change it in roughly four hours.”

Ridenhour said the city can do part of the work on their own.

“So we will have a new part and we will have a backup part,” William said.

“Then we will take the one we are taking out and see if we can have it rebuilt,” Mitchell said.

“That would give us two backup motors,” Ridenhour added.

Vogt added that while all expenses related to the issue are eligible for reimbursement, they all have to be documented to be turned in.”

Haworth made a motion to purchase the new motor and replace the old “and any plans to hurry along” the process. Williams seconded the motion and it passed with a 3-0 vote.

Ridenhour asked permission to speak to another water issue, which was granted.

“This (incident) exposes our backup well is not big enough and (the issue) needs to start showing up on the agenda,” Ridenhour said. “For years, that second well would cover when the big well was down. The well does not produce enough volume now for supply and demand.”

Williams said they need to reapply for grants.

“We also need to discuss water and sewer rates,” Ridenhour said.

The board closed the emergency meeting with the understanding that they were still waiting to confirm how the new well motor, which is currently with National Pump in Olive Branch, Miss., would be delivered. Ridenhour said the motor is 1,100 pounds and they would need to figure out how to transfer the load from the company’s equipment to the city’s equipment.

(This story has been updated with corrected information on the pump’s supplier and an update on shipping plans for the unit).