A request for a meeting between the Village of Morrin and Starland County by the village has put a spotlight on roles within the Morrin Water Treatment Plant as a potential conflict of interest.
Starland’s Director of Emergency Management, Glen Riep outlined a detailed report at the April 8 regular meeting of Starland county council of what his roles and responsibilities are for the operations of the Morrin Water Treatment Plant after a request was made by Reeve Steve Wannstrom.
In his report, he began by saying “there have been some comments or remarks made by individuals without knowledge of the matter attempting to mislead or spread misinformation for their own benefit.
“This misinformation has further been allowed to be distributed through a non-credited newspaper” referring to the ECA Review’s coverage of regular Morrin council meetings.
To note, the Review is accredited by four major associations including the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) and the National NewsMedia Council and Heritage Canada.
Riep’s involvement in the Morrin water system began in 1996 when the mayor of the time approached him for assistance as the operator at the time was ‘incapacitated and walked off the job’.
“The current operator was not reliable to perform the task of operating the water plant and ensuring compliance with the Code of Practice and left the village in a situation where they had no person monitoring the water and ensuring it was safe.
“I agreed to help the village out in the interim until the matter was resolved,” said Riep.
Since no one could be found in the short-term, the mayor asked Riep if he would permanently take on the job.
Riep, when taking the job under his own company by the name of Pier Enterprises, explicitly noted that this job would be conducted separately and on his own time away from Starland County time.
“This job has never kept me from performing my duties and responsibilities to Starland County and my various job duties,” he added.
Riep denied having ever discussed with village councillors regarding the purchase of the electric motor.
“This addition and change in the scope of the generator project was all done by a village councillor who attempted to then have the additional costs borne by Starland County.
“This is also the same person who attempted to accuse me of ordering the motor on my own,” stated Riep in his report to Starland.
“The fact that the county had equipment and persons performing this cost-saving work are now being construed as county personnel performing my contract duties. This again is a lie and is misinformation on the actual events and actions.”
With this report read into the minutes, council chose to hold off on having an in-person meeting with the village councillors until after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted to discuss the situation further.
Starland Waterworks system inspection
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) compliance staff conducted an inspection of the Starland Regional (southern block) waterworks system on March 5, 2020.
With the inspection divided into three key areas including Health, operational and administrative risk assessments, Starland’s system passed both the health and administrative sections.
The inspection did, however, find a potential risk in the operational section related to the individual elevated THM levels but council along with the province knew this has been a recurring problem related to the source water in the area which didn’t require the county to take immediate action.
Future council chambers
The Ponoka Cabinet Makers did a virtual delegation with council at their Zoom meeting on Wed. April 8 to get an overall idea of what the county deemed suitable for their future council chambers
The table is being custom built to fit the room perfectly.
“We don’t need to be on a stage more than we already are,” joked Reeve Steve Wannstrom. “And it’s more cost effective too.”
Figure Skating Club
The Morrin Figure Skating Club asked council for some funding through the Amateur Team Grant for their Pre-Canskate, Canskate, Pre-Starskate and Starskate programs for the past season to continue to keep costs like enrollment fees low.
At 29 participants strong, they asked for $50 per skater which came to $1,450.
Council agreed to support with the funds coming from MSI operating funding.
A letter requesting a barricade be made in Rowley to deter campers and visitors during COVID-19 pandemic left council slightly divided on what to do.
The letter from Jamie Foser and family, residents within the tiny hamlet, asked council to take action as they feared this may be a way for the virus to potentially spread, putting locals at risk.
They reported that even some people are so adamant about staying they are asking locals to shovel out a space for their trailers at the campground.
Many have left trash like dirty gloves around on the ground as well after paying a visit to the ghost town.
Foser asked that a sign saying something like “closed to non-local traffic” be made just like it is being done in Banff and Canmore.
Coun. Jackie Watt pointed out that they can’t necessarily close the road in the hamlet as there is a large process to it, comparing that of Drumheller where they are considered a ‘handshake-free community’ which sees thousands of tourists every year.
With the signs being located past the community hall on Main Street she was also concerned they may actually be pushing people towards the areas where residents actually live compared to the empty part.
She suggested they try the signs out that show COVID-19 awareness for now and have increased weekend check-ups from their new peace officer with intent to follow up if need be.