By Sterling McGinn

The Village of Newberry is seeking a $450,000 grant from EGLE (Environment Great Lakes and Energy) to assist in the inventory of lead service lines within the village. The item was discussed at the February 20 meeting of the Newberry Village Council, which took place at 6 p.m. in the village chambers.

Following the Flint Water Crisis, the state of Michigan has mandated that municipalities replace lead water service lines from residences to the streets. The project is unfunded. An inventory is to be completed by the end of the year.

“It’s a 100 percent grant—there is no match whatsoever,” said Village Manager Allison Watkins. “It’s to fund the lead service line inventory that is required by the State of Michigan the end of 2024.”

“The hope is that we will hear within the next few months if we have been awarded [the grant] and that the plan would be that sometime this summer, or early fall we will start the project, and it would be completed by the end of the year.”

In other news, Watkins informed the board that the village’s 2002 Case front-end loader, which is powered by diesel fuel, was filled with regular gasoline by a member of the DPW staff. The vehicle was filled at the Zephyr station across from Tahquamenon Area Schools, then driven back to the village property.

“At a minimum, it has completely ruined that fuel system and we will have to pay close to $10,000 if not more, to get the fuel system replaced,” Watkins said. “Only after the fuel system is replaced will we know if the engine has been impacted.”

The village spent approximately $70,000 back in 2022 to refurbish the loader. Watkins said the individual responsible for filling the loader with regular fuel has been terminated. The board approved replacing the fuel system.

A majority of the meeting was held in closed session while the council met with the village attorney regarding the ongoing sewer litigation between the Village of Newberry and Pentland Township. Following the lengthy closed session, the council reconvened to the regular meeting to vote to direct the attorney to inform the Pentland vs. Newberry mediator of the council settlement position.

No further information was given that night.