City council given updates on meters, lake, street lights

Jan. 31, 2013 @ 03:24 PM

Henderson leaders heard reports Monday on radio-read utility meters, Kerr Lake water levels and downtown street lights.

The matters came before the Henderson City Council during an after-meeting work session.

The radio-read meters are being installed through stages to upgrade all utility meters to the new technology. In August, the council approved a low-interest loan for purchasing about 1,000 of the new meters, replacing older ones as they age out at 15 to 20 years old.

The new meters can be read electronically by remote systems, and they record flow readings over increments of time. Remote reading is quicker, and from even modest replacement work so far, efficiencies have resulted in some savings, according to City Manager Ray Griffin.

“We have already seen some efficiency with that,” Griffin said, adding that one of the meter reader crew members is now in the field on a half-day schedule, putting in the balance of the day helping with customer service at the City Hall offices.

The first phase of the project emphasizes residential subdivisions outside city limits, where the meter reader runs can be most impacted, according to Griffin.

Water levels at Kerr Lake remained a healthy level above 302 feet over the weekend. Griffin said staff would continue to monitor levels over the next few weeks, recommending a suspension of voluntary conservation measures if no plunge in levels is reported.

“Significant rainfall and snow that fell during the week of Jan. 14 has tremendously improved the water level,” Griffin said, adding he believed the melting runoff would continue to be a plus.

City staff and Progress Energy officials are closer to a finalized plan for changing 62 of 65 street light poles along Garnett Street, and removing three others.

The existing 35-foot poles will be replaced with taller 40-foot poles, and be buried six feet deep. Progress will move forward at the city’s instruction, and a 12-to-16 week delivery time is anticipated.

“Progress Energy said they are ready and waiting on us,” Peter Sokalski, Henderson’s director of engineering, said. “These are going to be much more efficient light bulbs.”

Progress owns, and will pay for, the fixtures, including the stylized tear-drop variety of pole.

Benefits include the new poles having a 75-year expected life span with little or no maintenance, the improved look of downtown Garnett Street from Andrews Avenue to Spring Street, and the work as it is done will provide an opportunity for city crews to also clean up existing lines, removing some possible unnecessary lines.

There will be a $32,500 cost to the city for cutting up sidewalk patches that constitutes the city’s responsibility, and there will be revolving power shutdowns along the way, block by block as the work is done.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.