NEW HAVEN — A number of issues will soon be tackled by the new administration for the Town of New Haven, it was announced at a recent meeting, including a fine issued for violations at the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
Present were Mayor Phil Serevicz, Recorder Becky Benson, and council members Colton McKinney, Steve Carpenter, Jessica Rickard, Stephen Ohlinger, Jr., and Roy Grimm.
The town was previously fined over $200,000 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for violations for the period of 2017 through 2019. Some of the issues were not having an operator present at the plant at all times, only having one operator, required testing not being turned in on time, and other issues with plant equipment.
Mayor Serevicz said he spoke with DEP representative Dave Simmons, and had a meeting scheduled with him on Wednesday. He said he asked Simmons not to fine the town because it would “break them” and prevent the town from having the money to fix the violations.
The mayor said he was told by the DEP that the town was “not trusted.” Serevicz alleged the previous administration did not provide the DEP with the required “plan of action” to remedy plant violations, and did not pick up the registered letter in a timely fashion.
Progress has been made on a number of the plant issues, the mayor said. The clarifier is now operating, and some of the equipment needed for fixes and upgrades were already on hand.
A second gear box, at a cost of approximately $40,000, is needed to continue with plant functions. Operator Buzzy Duncan said the plant is now running at half capacity. The second gear box would increase that.
The mayor said the box has a five-year warranty. He added a loan could be taken from the water department for the purchase, or perhaps a payment plan could be established with the company. The council voted to purchase the gear box.
Also not operating at the plant were the press, as well as a generator. Serevicz said the press is now working, and a large amount of sludge has been removed. The plant generator, as well as one on Midway Drive, has not been maintained, the mayor added. The council agreed to spend nearly $1,900 to have them serviced.
Also at the meeting, Councilwoman Rickard said two additional companies are being paid by the town for the same services being provided by Appalachian Software. The services include the town’s water and sewer billing, as well as accounts payable and receivable.
A total of $30,000 has been paid to Unilink after one year of a two-year contract. An additional $2,475 has been paid to Accufund, Rickard said.
The mayor said since the companies all provide basically the same service, he will try to break the Unilink contract, if possible, as well as Accufund.
In other action, the council:
Agreed to hire one part-time, and two full-time police officers;
Decided to get quotes for new garbage trucks, as well as check on prices for outside trash companies;
Heard a report that the garbage truck is operational after wiring work and the replacement of tires, rims and hubs, at a cost of $2,200;
Agreed to pay Tim Gibbs $50 per month to allow the town to dump brush and concrete fragments on his property;
Voted to hire Darlene Roach on an “as needed” basis at $15.25 per hour to assist with billing software;
Agreed to look into those who have unpaid fines to see if they can clean properties in order for fine reductions;
Voted to move the recycling dumpsters from their present location to a town-owned location to avoid paying rent;
Agreed to require any employee coming back to work after testing positive for COVID to be retested at the town’s expense;
Had a police vehicle title changed from an individual’s name to the town;
Is investigating if 941 payments to the IRS are now up-to-date;
Set Sept. 7 as the final day for the municipal pool to be open; and,
Announced a new Facebook page has been established at “Town of New Haven WV.”
Following an executive session, the members agreed to hold a special meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at the town hall to discuss personnel.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Reach