Village Manager Faces Wind, Rain, and Flood Upon Appointment

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Renee Poirier, who was concerned about her water bill, was happy to congratulate Ken Schippers upon hearing the village council appointed him as village manager.

By Sue Moore

Ferocious wind and rain roared through Vicksburg and nearby areas Monday evening, June 30. As if that wasn’t enough water flowing, the village experienced a burst water pipe on Sunday, July 13, just days after the announcement that Ken Schippers, acting village manager, would become the permanent appointee to the position.

“I think I’m being tested,” Schippers joked. This was on Monday, following the eruption of an underground valve at the corner of Main and Prairie streets. According to some witnesses, water flowed down W. Prairie like a river.

“The road rose about a foot in the air,” Schippers said. “The bolts on the outside edge of the 8-inch line had corroded underground, and the top of the pipe came right off.” The flood emptied the village’s water tower, as it poured into the Sunset Lake pond and channel that runs through Clark Park. The village immediately issued a Boil Water Advisory. In addition, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) conducted tests for bacteria. DEQ certified that the water was safe, and two days later, lifted the advisory.

The wind storm that ripped through the village saw many beloved, but aged, trees blow down on houses and cars. Fortunately, no one was injured. The storm forced downtown businesses to close for two days, until electricity was restored to residences and stores. The storm left roofs to be repaired and damage all over town to be cleaned up by the Department of Public Works (DPW), which Schippers will continue to head.

Schippers reported that the 22 lift stations in the village all went out at the same time.   He took available generators from station to station to maintain the flow of electricity throughout the 2 ½ days that the power was out.

Most restaurants were closed. Food and other perishable products had to be tossed if the establishment didn’t have a generator that could kick into action. The two pharmacies, Hill’s and Fred’s, were open primarily to help fill emergency prescriptions. One customer at Fred’s commented that she would never again wait until the last minute to get a script filled. Hill’s operated by flashlight, but could neither open the cash register nor operate the credit card machine.

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The water main that burst in downtown Vicksburg on Sunday, July 15 sent a river of water down West Prairie Street, while the Department of Public Works staff, hastened to stop the flood.

Some people saw this as a convenient way to get a day or two off, but Evie Hall, of Home Again consignments, along with the owner of the antiques store next door, hastened to add that the storm was horrible for her business.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) greeted Schippers with good news. A surprise call from MDOT informed him that $466,000 had been released to pave W. Prairie Street in 2014. This is state money, not federal, which had been requested for 2015, so the new village manager is treating it as somewhat of a windfall. According to Colin Bailey, a council member satisfied with the appointment, those who knew and appreciated Schippers while he was “acting” village manager, have no doubt that village residents have received much more than a windfall.

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Bill Hunt, who lives near the construction for a new sewer line on V Avenue, was present every day to check on the progress. During the winter, flooding had taken place in his daughter’s family basement, from problems with the lift station at the corner of 22nd Street and V Ave., so he had a special interest to see this project completed.

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