Belding City Council approves assistance for city water treatment

BELDING — With Belding having some of the freshest drinking water in the county, you can thank one woman for running the city’s water treatment system for the past two weeks.

Belding City Manager Jon Stoppels discusses the need for assistance on the city’s water treatment field during a recent City Council meeting. — DN Photo | Kelsey Lister

A “boots on the ground” type of woman, Mercedes Rendall, 29, holds all of Belding’s trust in one of the most rewarding jobs as the water operator for the Belding Department of Public Works.

After the exam for her D2 treatment license, Rendall followed in Ernest Thomas’ footsteps who, before retiring two weeks ago, ran the system with Rendall as an assistant. However, after having to run it alone, she sought and received some extra assistance.

At last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Jon Stoppels opted, with a 5-0 vote from the City Council, to give Rendall more assistance in the field with Belding’s “very good and fresh drinking water.”

“In doing her daily work, she wants to have people to assist her and also do her job if she’s not right there,” Stoppels said. “She wants to have somebody that she can trust to take care of those things. It just makes sense.”

The assistance in question would be the organization Fleis & Vandenbrink: an engineering, support and testing company that would help on a need basis. Stoppels said this was one of the better options for Rendall.

“We have to have backup for her and Fleis and Vandenbrink would do that for about a fifth of the cost of what we were undertaking with a full-time employee overseeing her,” Stoppels said. “I have great faith in their ability. They’ve spent a lot of time with Mercedes … They’re on the same page as she is.”

While balancing this job as a lone wolf at the moment, Mercedes told the Daily News that it’s been stressful lately.

“This new position has come with a little bit more stress. It was expected, but it’s just thinking that ‘I am the one responsible for everyone’s drinking water,’” Rendall said. “It’s my responsibility to make sure that they are safe and have water all the time.”

After the City Council voted to give Rendall some assistance, she feels relief.

“It was a little stressful, but it’s nice to know all I have to do is call them and they’ll have an operator here right away to help me with whatever I need,” Rendall said. “It gives me a lot of peace of mind.”

Council members commended Rendall for her hard work trying to transition between jobs and overseers. Mayor Bruce Meyers was very appreciative of the work that was being done in a high-pressure situation.

“I want to congratulate Mercedes for her work. The DWP — what they’re doing out there is admirable,” Meyers said.

With everything in motion, Rendall said her work is extremely important to her, and will continue to be important as long as she’s in this position.

“Building is a great community. It’s a small town but everyone seems to be more in touch with each other,” Rendall said. “This is a very fulfilling job and I’m glad to be here to help anyone in any way that I can.”