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Williston weighs three options on sinking building

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

The building that houses the Williston Fire and Police departments is showing visible unsettling almost daily and now the city has to decide which option to correct it is most viable.

Last week, City Manager Scott Lippmann said that discussion with the city’s insurer led to three possible solutions.

The first–and the insurance company’s recommendation–is to fill the low spots with grout.

But Lippmann said that solution does come with concerns. Because the building is located near the city’s well head, there are no assurances that the grout wouldn’t leak into the aquifer and contaminate the water supply.

The second choice is to utilize a ram jack to get the building more stable. In this solution, Lippmann explained, screw pilings are inserted under the slap and torque pressure is applied until an engineer assures it is firmly seated. Then bolts are used to support the slab from underneath. The engineering estimate is expected by the end of this week, and Lippmann said it was cheaper than using grout.

The last solution is a buy-out to relocate both departments.

Both police and fire chiefs have found suitable temporary accommodations, but modifications have to be met and that takes time–and that’s the unknown factor in this equation. No one knows just how safe the building is and how much time they have.

The fire department is utilizing a remodeled structure at the airport and Chief Lamar Stegall said it will be a permanent site for a truck and rescue vehicle.

For now, the best the city can do is continue to monitor the building and wait for the insurance company and engineer’s reports.

In other business, a proposal to assist the financially strapped JROTC program at Williston High School was defeated in a 4-1 vote.

Councilman Charles Goodman said the city should support young people who are interested in military service. He said the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) had committed to a $500 donation if the city would donate the other $1,000 the JROTC needs and made a motion to contribute the money.

The motion received a second for discussion purposes, but it was clear as each councilman spoke, the group–as a whole–was opposed to the idea.

“If you support one organization,” said Cal Byrd, “there’s nothing to stop the next one.”

Councilman Jason Cason also opposed the vote, saying that a few months back several recreation groups appeared before the council asking for a share of $10,000 in designated recreation funds.

The council couldn’t decide how to best divvy up the money and so no one reaped the financial benefit.

The city becomes a contributor, Cason said, and it should be civic clubs that are supportive, not the city.

“It’s a well we never get to the bottom of,” said Byrd.

When the vote was taken, only Goodman supported the donation with Cason, Byrd, Matt Brooks and Elihu Ross opposed.