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By David Knopf, News Editor
City Administrator Ron Brohammer asked Sunrise Elementary second-graders if they could guess how many miles of underground pipe Richmond has feeding its south sewer plant.
“1,000 miles?” one student ventured.
There are many, many miles of sewer lines, Brohammer said, but maybe just a few less than a thousand.
“More than enough to go all the way to Kansas City and halfway back,” he said. “That’s a long way.”
Brohammer, Mayor Mike Wright, several other city officials, representatives of the agriculture department, even a U.S. senator’s aide were on hand for ceremonies that marked Earth Day 2012.
The festivities included the announcement of winners of an annual poster contest and a thank-you to the city for hosting a tour of a sewer plant that will soon be expanded to process all of Richmond’s waste.
“We’re glad that you came and glad that you learned,” said Brohammer, who was also accompanied by City Clerk Tonya Willim, his assistant, and by Dale Shipp, who supervises wastewater operations. “We only have one earth, and that’s the one we’ve got to take care of.”
The second-graders’ poster contest was geared to what they’d learned from Shipp’s explanation of how waste is processed, cleaned and eventually released as clear water.
Poster winners were James Schwarz, first place; Jacob Sisco, second place; Cordilia Payne, third place; and Kiley Lindley, fourth place.
The winners received gift cards for their posters, which were judged by city staff. All 125 or so entries have been on display at city hall.
The event was a big occasion for both the city and the Rural Development division of USDA. The agency was represented by no fewer than eight employees, including several from the Richmond service center and others from the area and state offices.
They all praised the city and Sunrise Elementary for working to explain the process of treating sewage.
“It’s important that you know how things work,” said Janie Dunning, Missouri state director for USDA Rural Development.”
Debbie Barry, an area specialist for Rural Development, thanked Shipp and other city officials for accommodating a tour organized to tie into Earth Day.
“It takes all of us, you at home, your teachers, to make things work,” Barry said.
Brooke Balentine, a field representative for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, was also on hand for the awards presentation. She was involved in a ceremony to recognize the city’s receipt of over $1.3 million in USDA funds, a combination of a grant and low-interest loan, toward its sewer-consolidation project.
Dunning presented the mayor with a certificate that recognized its achievement in raising funds to combine its two current sewer plants into a single, expanded plant.
“Having an environmentally safe water system is very important and I commend all the partners for their hard work in making this a reality,” she said.