Neely: City to move ahead with water tank repairs

Robert Smith
Pawhuska City Manager Dave Neely. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

Pawhuska City Manager Dave Neely said Friday that the city’s 2019 application for grant funds to make repairs to an aging two-million-gallon water tank has been turned down, but the city is planning to begin work on the tank, anyway.

“I will make a recommendation to the council members that we pay it out over the long term,” Neely said, clarifying that he doesn’t think city government should use reserve funds to pay off the tank upgrade. “There won’t be any outages of water while they’re doing that.”

Seeking state backing for the tank-repair project has been a source of frustration for Pawhuska City Hall. City officials also sought grant funds in 2018, knowing that state regulators had informed them the tank needed attention, but were turned down then, as well. Neely has been on-board almost a month now, having taken over Aug. 1 as city manager.

Neely said he is also looking at getting work started on repairs to the dam at Lake Pawhuska. He said that he anticipates work will begin on the water storage tank, and the city will follow right behind the beginning of that project with its efforts to address the situation with the dam.

Meanwhile, Neely said Friday that Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) official Barbara Albritton had recommended the city might look at obtaining grant funds through the Rural Economic Action Program to increase its stock of the high-tech water meters to which the city is gradually converting. Pawhuska has installed several hundred of the meters, Neely said, and has plans to purchase another 200, but the grant money could help the city buy an additional 50-60 meters, he said.

The Pawhuska City Council in its August meeting approved making an application for REAP funds. REAP is a state-level grant program designed to enhance the economic viability of rural communities. It can help communities with infrastructure improvements, and with the delivery of services such as firefighting and emergency medical care.

In other business, Neely said Friday he wanted to give special recognition to the city’s cemetery and parks mowing crew. He said the crew was mowing a wider swath on both sides of the State Highway 60/Main Street entrance to the city from the east.

“They’re soaking wet because the grass is wet from the rain last night,” Neely said. “But they’re taking some pride in what our main entrance looks like.”

Neely also praised city workers who had been up in the middle of the night more than one time last week to respond to power outages caused by storms.