MINSTER – The head of the Danone Plant assured those in attendance at the Minster Village Council meeting Tuesday night their facility is doing its best to handle odors and noise. The meeting was held Tuesday night at shelter 3 of the Four Seasons Park to allow social distancing.

David Merritt, plant director said Danone strives to control odors coming from the plant, saying that the two complaints in May 2020 and December 2019 had broken their record of no complaints for two years.

He added since their new partnership with wastewater pre-treatment plant operator Veolia began in June 2019, they have experienced more efficient operations.

“We are really good at making yogurt but they are better with wastewater management,” said Merritt.

He also said he felt since installing the pre-wastewater treatment plant at Danone some 10 years ago, they were moving in the right direction while they increase production. Danone recently increased their production by 26 kilo-tons or 8%.

He added the two incidents were taken very seriously and they continue to monitor for sources of odor. because were committed to continuous improvement of odor at the plant so we don’t have those issues anymore.

He said the two odor incidents, related to sludge hauling and a broken air conditioner, had prompted them to institute changes, but also unforeseen circumstances can happen. For example, the sludge hauling incidents involved both a new hauler as well as a hauling sludge from new locations within the plant, some of which did not have a filtration system in place. Merritt said since that time, all sludge is routed through facilities that do have filtration in place.

Merritt said in 2018 Danone spent $1.5 million on upgrades to their Dissolved Air Flotation systems that handle the milk waste products and have added a calamity tank to hold by-products in case the process system fails. Next year they intend to added increased capacity in the aeration area.

Village resident Craig Sherman was also on hand at the council meeting. Sherman has lead a group of residents unhappy with the odors and noise coming from the Danone facility. He presented a check list of requests for updates and changes in procedures at the plant.

He noted there has been at least one more odor incident in the two weeks since the last council meeting. There was some debate between Merritt and Sherman in defining how numbers of incidents are defined.

Sherman renewed his suggestion that sludge hauling be limited to the hours of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. He also wanted to know if the village and the EPA will be able to provide feedback about the upcoming July 20 violation report that Danone is required to submit to the Ohio EPA twice a year.

Finally, Sherman asked how a planned meeting between council and Danone had gone. Council member Craig Oldiges, who serves as the utility committee chair, said they had a very good meeting with Danone representatives and he and the other committee members were encouraged by the improving level of communication they were receiving.

Village resident Todd Kitzmiller also renewed his request that alternate modes be used instead of the backup alarms used at the plant.

In other action, council began plans to raise the cost for the use of extra strength cleaning of wastewater sent to the village treatment plant. Approved was the first reading of an ordinance to raise the charge for phosphorus treatment from $4.90 to $5.75, solid waste from $.87 to $1, nitrogen treatment from $3.02 to $3.25 and treatment of Carbonaceous Biochemical Oxygen Demand from $2.61 to $3. The charges were last increased in 2017.

In other action, the council approved a final reading of an ordinance to award Barrett Paving a $191,391.25 contract for Minor Street Resurfacing.

Also gaining final approval was an ordinance to annex 18.44 acres of land located a the Seventh Street and state Route 66 intersection.

Council also approved a resolution to accept funding from House Bill 481, providing federal CARES money for expenses related to COVID.

In his report to council, Harrod said that Vaughn Electric has started the process of removing the old transmission line wire from Fourth Street to First Street and replacing the old wire with new 336 aluminum wire. They are expected to finish this project in another week.

The electric department continues to rebuild the underground electric in various areas around town. Currently they are working in the Lakewood/Stallo Road area. This involves installation of new underground wiring and the replacement of old transformers. The work is being done in conjunction with NKTELCO installation of fiber in these areas.

All contracts have been finalized with Eitri Foundry on the second phase of the solar field. Both attorneys Gregg Ottinger and Jim Hearn approved the contracts after making several suggestions of language changes, which were approved by Eitri Foundry. Eitri and Mike Kiser from MK Power Solutions are working on the design of the interconnection tie and this should be wrapped up shortly.

The 30-minute power outage that occurred last Tuesday morning in the northern part of town was caused by a squirrel that was tangled in a three-phase line. This resulted in a fault and blown fuses that took out the power to the area north of Fourth street.

The public works department with the assistance of Dan Paulus will begin the replacement of the waterline on Minster-Fort Recovery Road this week. Crews will be replacing the existing two-inch line that has had numerous leaks in it over the years. This line serves the homes that are just to the west of Enterprise Parkway

CDM Smith has begun work on the water modeling portion of the engineering for the new water tower to replace the old tower on Ohio street. CDM has requested with village GIS data on the water system and billing data to begin the development of the water model.

The village administrator said they met with representatives from the Minster Youth Softball and Baseball Organization to go over requirements for conducting the Minster Classic Little League Baseball Tournament. The organization has contacted and received approval from the Auglaize County Health Department to hold the tournament. The Village reviewed other protocols with the organization that must be met to ensure compliance with social distancing.

He also said they continue to work with Midnet Media on the re-design of the village’s website. Currently the village and software designer are reviewing several pieces of software that will allow the village to schedule diamonds, shelter houses, pickleball courts, etc. He added it is the Village’s goal to have the new site launched with the next couple of months.

Harrod also said he has reviewed a draft of a consolidation study to merge emergency services in the township and villages of Minster and New Bremen being conducted by McGrath Consulting. It was hoped to have a final report on their recommendations within the next couple of weeks. Once the final report is completed, there will be a joint meeting with the township officials and New Bremen to go over the report.

Shinn Brothers continue to work on the pickleball and basketball courts at the Four Seasons Park. The concrete surface has been prepared for coating, most of the lights have been installed and the fence post have been put in. The village received a requested a time extension from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to complete the project.

Council approved the June 2020 tax income report of $305,860.52 for a year-to-date total of $1,987,405.15. Also approved were receipts of 1,451,746 and expenses of $1,045,757.44.

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.