Belle emergency meeting results in critical infrastructure purchase

By Roxie Murphy, Assistant Editor
Posted 2/7/24

BELLE —B&H Well Drilling arrived around 8 a.m. Saturday morning to replace the 1,100 pound motor in well house three near the Mitchem Avenue water tower. By 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, services …

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Belle emergency meeting results in critical infrastructure purchase


BELLE —B&H Well Drilling arrived around 8 a.m. Saturday morning to replace the 1,100 pound motor in well house three near the Mitchem Avenue water tower. By 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, services were completely restored to normal pressure.

Well three had been down since Jan. 31 and was initially thought to have been caused by a high voltage power surge that damaged the pump. The city of Belle posted on Jan. 31 on its Facebook page that due to a high voltage surge, the pump was out. They asked residents to continue to conserve water until the new parts were installed.

Businesses and residents located at the end of water lines located at the edge of the city began reporting low to no water pressure on Wednesday afternoon and the problem was discovered.

Once it became clear the motor in well house three was the problem and not the pump, Mayor Pro Tem James (Pudd) Mitchell had Charro Reasor, city treasurer and office manager, post an emergency meeting notice. According to the notice, the meeting was posted on Feb. 1 at 10:30 a.m. for a 10:45 a.m. special emergency meeting under Section 610.020.2 to discuss “emergency weather tower purchase and approval of main water equipment.”

Mitchell along with Aldermen Barb Howarth and Emily Williams were present to forum 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,” Ridenhour 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 discussed using its ARPA money to pay for the cost of purchasing the new motor, its transport, installation, and any labor costs involved. Those funds had previously been set aside by former mayor Josh Seaver’s administration for the purpose of updating water infrastructure by using the funds as an match for a grant.

“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 still. 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,” Williams said.

“Then we will take the one we are taking out and see if we can have it rebuilt, too,” 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. Approval to purchase a new $13,945.45 well motor 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.”

When the pump in well house three went out between February and March of 2021, the smaller well on Third Street was able to maintain water services in town for 47 days. It’s current inability to keep up with residents’ needs could mean another issue hasn’t been discovered.

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.

Mitchell said on Thursday afternoon around 3:20 p.m. that the new motor was scheduled to leave Olive Branch, Miss., on Feb. 2 at 8:30 a.m., transported by B4 Logistics.

“I got a really good rate to have it shipped here,” Mitchell said. “It will be delivered to Belle tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 2) afternoon. B&H Well Drilling will be here (Friday) and we will have the old well motor out and the new one will go in as soon as it gets here.”

However, a late start on Feb. 2 and unforeseen issues caused the motor to be delayed until after 5 p.m. on Friday night. Work began to install the new motor first thing Saturday (Feb. 3) morning.