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Rogersville BMA gives final approval to abolish Water Commission

Jeff Bobo • Jul 26, 2018 at 2:44 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday to issue a $2 million bond for water/sewer system improvements, and beginning in September, the BMA will begin administering those funds itself as the new Water Commission.

Aside from approving the bond issue by a vote of 4-0, the BMA also voted 3-1 on the third and final reading of an ordinance to abolish the Rogersville Water Commission and to place the BMA over that department.

In essence, the full BMA will serve as the new Water Commission, but that change won’t go into effect until Sept. 1 in order to give City Recorder Glen Hutchins, who is also Water Department treasurer, time to make the transition.

Mayor Jim Sells attempted to abolish the Water Commission last year after it came to light that over a span of approximately two years former Water Superintendent Shawn Hatchett allegedly diverted cash collections totaling at least $338,929 by withholding funds from deposits he was entrusted to deliver to the bank.

Sells was one vote short last year of abolishing the Water Commission, but he gained that vote after Hatchett was indicted in April of this year on charges of theft over $250,000, theft over $60,000 and official misconduct.

In May and June, the three BMA representatives on the Water Commission, Mark DeWitte, Eloise Edwards and Craig Kirkpatrick, voted against abolishing the department, but Sells broke the 3-3 tie both times.

Edwards was out of town on vacation during Tuesday’s vote, and Kirkpatrick was out sick. DeWitte offered the only no vote.

How will the $2 million bond be spent?

During the Water Commission meeting Tuesday, which was held prior to the BMA meeting, Interim Superintendent Bill Pearson gave a report on some of his top priorities for the bond.

Pearson told the Water Commission that with BMA approval of the bond issue he will start working on a bid package for the items that will be paid using bond funding.

Pearson’s top priorities included:

1. Replenishing the backhoes, trucks and utility beds.

2. Replacing the Lena Drive sewer line, which extends from Christian Sells Funeral home to the east side city limits.

3. Refurbishing the Park View water tank, which will be cleaned on the inside and painted on the outside.

4. Upgrading the wastewater treatment plant diffusers, which feed oxygen into the raw sewage to help microorganisms/bacteria in the water break down pollutants. Pearson said two blowers are currently running 24 hours a day because the diffusers are inefficient.

Park Boulevard sewer line screening

Rogersville was awarded a $387,000 Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $387,000 to help cover the cost of a sewer system screen on Park Boulevard which has been mandated by the state to prevent items being flushed by jail inmates from clogging the system and causing floods.

Pearson told the commission that the Water Department’s match is a maximum of $89,000, but he said much of the labor can be performed by his staff, which will greatly reduce the cost of the project and reduce the match to an estimated $40,000.

“The old screen is holding up, but we’re still getting a lot of jail stuff down through there, and we have to suffer through that,” Pearson said.

The state mandated that both the city and county improve the screening system on Park Boulevard between the Hawkins County Jail and local businesses after three businesses were flooded in March of 2016.

 


 

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