Government

Grandville wins major state award from Municipal League

City’s personable mayor also is honored

October 15, 2012
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Grandville wins major state award from Municipal League
Grandville city officials, including Mayor Jim Buck, third from right, celebrate winning the Michigan Municipal League’s The Race for the Cup award.

The city of Grandville captured a highly coveted award from the Michigan Municipal League at the organization’s annual convention earlier this month. The MML, which represents the state’s cities and villages, also gave Grandville’s longtime and popular mayor, Jim Buck, a prestigious honor.

The league named Buck, who has served as the city’s top elected official for the past 28 years, the recipient of the Jim Sinclair Exceptional Service Award. The honor recognizes Buck as an individual who has dedicated his life to public service and has passionately supported the league’s mission to enhance the quality of life for its residents.

Over the past few decades, Buck has been very involved with the Michigan Municipal League. He served on the league’s Workman Compensation Board from 1985-1991 and chaired it from 1988-1991. He also served on the MML board of trustees from 1991-1994 and was vice president in 1993-94. Buck received the league’s Special Merit Award in 1990 and became an honorary lifetime member in 1998. Today, he chairs the MML’s foundation.

“It was quite an honor,” said Buck, who served as a city councilman for 13 years before moving into the mayor’s office, of receiving the Sinclair award.

Buck also has chaired the Grand Valley Metro Council for the better part of two decades.

As for the city, Grandville earned the 2012 Community Excellence Award. The statewide award, also known as The Race for the Cup, recognizes a municipality that has found an innovative solution to a problem. Grandville beat out six other cities for the honor with its expansion and renovation of the city’s water plant. The project was the first of its kind in Michigan, as it incorporated pioneering wastewater treatment technology into the city’s newly expanded clean-water plant.

“The significant feature is what they call the egg-shaped digester. In layman’s terms, the solids that come from wastewater treatment go into this digester, then heat and mixing are applied. What happens with this is, it generates methane gas. So the unique feature is that gas is captured and it’s reused,” said Grandville City Manager Ken Krombeen.

“So we’re now capturing that gas … and it is being used to power a cogeneration unit, and it turns this gas into energy. We’re able to use that energy to help run the treatment process and rely less on power that we purchase to do that,” he added.

But the energy provided by the 75-foot tall digester isn’t the only benefit. Krombeen said Grandville is able to use the heat it generates in some of the city’s buildings, such as the water plant’s lab and operations center. “It actually has in-floor heating and the appropriate duct work. Rather than heating it with the typical fossil fuels, we are doing that with the product of the wastewater process,” he said.

Krombeen, who has been Grandville’s manager since 1996, said fiscal projections show the project will save the city from $150,000 to $200,000 annually on its power bill and heating tab.

“The payback on the investment, they figured, will be less than seven years,” he said. “On this particular one, you can see a very clear business case for making an investment that will make this plant more sustainable and pay for itself and more.”

The plant is along the Grand River at the Baldwin Street exit of I-196, situated at Grandville’s boundary with Jenison. The project cost $23 million; the city went to the bond market for financing. The facility also services some nearby communities such as the city of Hudsonville, and Georgetown and Jamestown townships. Krombeen said its customers also chipped in to pay for the project, with the Ottawa County Road Commission turning out to be the largest of those contributors.

“The expansion was largely financed by the customer communities, and the renovation was primarily financed by the city of Grandville,” he said.

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