• Sewer concerns get heated in Watertown

    By Jared Felkins -

    Watertown sewer operator Dale Smith and Mayor Mike Jennings sparred a bit about operations at the wastewater treatment plant Tuesday evening during the city council’s regular meeting. 

    In his report to the council, Smith said an incident took place July 8 at the wastewater treatment plant when pumps malfunctioned due to thermal overload and the wastewater holding reservoir overflowed. 

    “There was a fish kill, but the guy with . We can lessen the load in the amount that’s in the box.”

    In other business, the council approved on final reading the changes to the sewer use ordinance that included state-approved limits on a 4-1 vote with Jennings against it. 

    The council was also introduced to acting fire Chief Blake Haun, who replaced John Jewell when he retired at the end of July after about 20 years of service. Haun is a full-time firefighter with Gallatin Fire Department and previously served as training officer and then assistant chief in Watertown. He holds an associate’s degree in fire science from Volunteer State Community College. 

    During his report, Haun said the department named Rob Westling as chaplain. He said Westling previously served as chaplain for the St. Louis Cardinals and Rams. 

    The council plans to create a timeline and process to appoint a new fire chief at its August meeting. 

    The council also:

    • approved accepting sealed bids to sell a dump truck and lawnmower. 

    • approved a resolution to declare “A Day of Prayer for Our Schools.”

    • approved a payment to Bob Slade to compile a capacity, management, operations and maintenance report for the city to be submitted by Aug. 1. 

    • limited the days residents can add brush to the burn pile to Wednesdays from 8 a.m. until noon by appointment only. 

    The council recessed the meeting until Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. to approve the city’s budget on final reading. Jennings said the city collected about 94 percent of property taxes and had a $600,000 surplus in water and sewer. 

    “We finished this year in a very strong financial position,” Jennings said. “With that said, we’ve got a major expense coming up with sewer repairs.”

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