Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Saving Money, Preserving & Repairing

There are lots of ways we can save energy in Columbus and our Water & Light department has made some changes that will lower electric costs for the holidays. This year the holiday decorations downtown will be lit with LED lights. In the past the wreaths above the streetlights had 14 high energy light bulbs. These have been replaced with 140 small LED lights. The electricity cost will go from about $20 per streetlight to $2. So when you drive through the downtown you can check out the LED Holiday lights and see if they would work for you. They are available at the local hardware store. This one simple change makes the city more energy efficient and saves taxpayers money.

Something small can make a difference. A couple of weeks ago we dedicated four bikes at the Amtrak station. These are recovered bikes that the police had so they were free of charge to the city. They were painted crazy colors to be easily identified, and put at the Amtrak station for folks to borrow while they were waiting for a train. Well, I had a call last week from a couple who love to take vacations that do not involve a car. They were excited to hear that they could borrow bikes and explore our city. So they’ve planned a trip to Columbus on the train, then they’ll be borrowing bikes, eating in the local restaurants, staying locally and shopping. This one small thing has already had a positive economic impact on our community! And there was no cost to the city or taxpayers… just some imagination and a sense of fun!

We learned last week that DNR will not be fining us for the discharging that happened during the flood this spring. Prior to all the sewer work in the Main Street basin area, Columbus was considered a problem community and we were being closely monitored for any violations. We acted responsibly and upgraded badly deteriorating pipes. We’ve met with the DNR and made every attempt to meet requirements. The flood overwhelmed our system, but the DNR recognized that this was beyond our control. Again, good planning and management saves our citizens money, and provides better services.

I understand there has been some confusion over the need to repair the “roof” on City Hall. I think that we’re all talking about the same thing, but sometimes the vocabulary gets in the way. The repair the City Council is considering is a repair to the braces and joists that support the actual roofing materials. Of course when the braces are repaired new roofing materials will be required. The joists and braces have exceeded their expected life and are in desperate need of repair. City Hall has been the cornerstone of Columbus since 1892… over 116 years! When we repair and preserve it saves money while preserving our history. A new City Hall to house the Administration, Police Department and City Council Chambers would cost millions, while repairing the roof is much less expensive.

And talk about preserving and repairing. This summer I decided to paint the front porch of our B&B and wanted to strip off the layers of old paint before I put on new. I thought that it would take me a few weeks to strip down the wood… well I was wrong. After almost 10 weeks of scraping, stripping, sanding and using a heat gun I finally finished one HALF of the porch. It looks great, but I know what I’ll be working on as soon as the weather gets warm in the spring!

Did you notice the maple trees this week? The bright yellow leaves against the black trunks branches were spectacular and gave us a last look at their beauty before they fell to the ground preparing for winter. We live in a beautiful place! Enjoy your weekend.

Nancy Osterhaus – Mayor
920 623.4925