MENOMINEE - When people look at a city they'll always notice parks, streets and lighting but there are elements people don't see that are every bit as important. Things like underground cables, water lines and sewer pipes.

"We have several lift stations across the community that help transfer our sanitary waste or our sewer waste, to various points throughout the city to the main treatment facility where it gets treated and discharged," said City Manager Michael Cramer. "Those stations are extremely important, if they do not function properly we have quite a bit of trouble transferring waste from the outlying areas into the plant itself."

The city is in need of improvements to all seven lift stations due to a growing number of inadequacies and failures.

"These stations have various types of pumps and floats and electronics and warning systems that go off whenever we have trouble with power and surges and things like that," said Cramer. "They are a very important piece to our overall sanitary system and its functioning."

The city put out a request for proposals in January and received five bids ranging from $116,000 to $204,390. The bids included design, equipment, installation and training. The city engineer, city manager, Public Safety/Public Works Committee and the Water and Wastewater Utility Board all looked at the firms and bids and suggested going with Atronex Control Systems/L.W. Allen, Inc. of Madison, Wis., which submitted a bid of $125,555.

The council gave the go ahead Monday night with funds to pay for the improvements coming from the sewer capital improvement account.

Voters will also get their chance to decide on other improvements in the city. A special election will be held May 7 to approve a $4.5 million bond to be used for street and sidewalk projects over the next 10 years with an interest rate of 3 percent. This is the same arrangement the city has had for the past 10 years. The final project from that bond, 14th Avenue, will be started this spring. A vote in favor of the bond would not increase taxes but it would ensure streets in the city would be maintained for the next decade.

City Engineer Valerie Mellon has already identified 23 miles of street and sidewalks projects to the council, that's about one-third of all the streets in town.

Between now and the election, the city will be busy getting the word out about the importance of the bond.
"One of the things we want to do is make sure we communicate with and educate the public as to what they will be voting on at that time," said Cramer.

The city plans to use its website, mass mailing and the local media.