Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

August 16, 2012

Moravia’s first sewer adventure

By Frances Benell - Moulton, Udell, Moravia and Unionville
Daily Iowegian

MORAVIA — It was 1972-73 and we (my husband Paul and four kids and me) had just come home to Moravia for the weekend, from Des Moines where Paul had a job at Armstrong Tire.

I volunteered to go get some groceries at Spencer's and my Dad said, "You can't take a vehicle up town, and walking also is a great skill at this point."

I asked why. It was because piles of frozen earth were everywhere. Moravia was getting a sewer system, and sewer status was in the critical state, as Dad had pointed out. The contractor had dug big holes everywhere there was to be a joining of the pipes, which was everywhere, and put the dirt any place convenient. Moravia was under the gun to have a sewer system, and got the lowest bid, and followed the guidelines. The mayor and city council were horrified at what had happened, as the contractor had literally and actively, brought the entire community to a stop. Delivery trucks had to park blocks away to supply stores. Many had to find places to park so they could get to out-of-town jobs.

The Mayor and the City Council worked very hard to get at least major streets open. They bought another maintainer for that purpose. They had one. They continued to be on the contractor every minute of the working day. They followed him around as much as possible to get the work necessary done and holes filled quickly. The grade school sewer was cancelled temporarily and the holes filled in, so the kids could attend school and buses could run. This was the old grade school, now a park and softball and baseball field. It also has basketball and tennis courts.

Many of the Moravia citizenry were desperate. They were people who had to get to work both in town and out of town. Sometimes the water was shut off, sometimes the big hole was right in front of their house. They didn't think it should take this long. The council probably had more ulcers than anyone else in town.

Before the sewer project many of the townspeople had a toilet outside, with tank underneath. When it got full the clean-out guy came with his big truck with a big container and hose and cleaned it out.

Initially everyone was pleased with the concept of having indoor bathrooms. They hadn't counted on all this mess, partially due to bad weather, partly the contractor.

The city council and mayor also quit saying I am your town official and I am here to help. They just doggedly kept trying to do the best they could. They had the idea of just keep putting one foot in front of the other and get it done.

When they were finally into city council meetings that were pleasant, thinking about sunshine instead of piles of dirt and life was good.

Much later we had an improvement to the sewer system and we now have a good system and a little room to grow if we need it.

It was fortunate that the square had not been paved yet. That was the only fortunate thing about the first sewer system installed in Moravia.

Now the city council can look at the paved roads, most all in town have paving, blacktop or a new sealed procedure that is working well.

I believe that when all was said and done, we all stuck together and made it through. I also believe we had good council members, mayors and city clerks who kept us focused on what we had created, one of the first in Appanoose County sewer systems.

The current council members are John Baty, Charles Turner, Mike Gray, Ken Martin and Bob Robinson. The mayor is Dave Fenton. The city clerk is Jean Ballanger. They are all active not only as council and mayor, but they are involved in most of the community activities

Charles Turner, an engineer, is the only city council member who served on the council that built the first sewer system, and on the council for the second one. He has spent a lot of time working for Moravia, putting his many talents to work for his city. We are very lucky with the people who choose Moravia.