The South & Center Sewer District’s administrative board has unanimously approved a permanent director of operations.
During an administrative board meeting Tuesday, the board enstated Tom Walsh as the permanent director of operations for the sewer district, effective immediately. Walsh was previously working as the interim director of operations.
“This is a good thing,” board member Tom Erlandson said, with the board agreeing.
“I went to college and came to (South & Center) 21 years ago. The former director of operations said that I could be transferring to Dunkirk. I jokingly said, ‘I want your job.’ 21 years later, and here I am,” Walsh said.
Chautauqua County Legislator Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point, and Jackson Smith, a Lakewood resident, attended the meeting. According to Smith, Dale Robbins, a member of the board, encouraged him to attend to express his interest in the board. Smith grew up in Lakewood, was a United States Merchant Marine and has more than 20 years experience with large projects focused on installing underground pipes.
According to Robbins, Smith’s expertise would be invaluable to the board.
The board adopted the consideration of adding Smith to the board which was unanimously approved. The legislature will need to officially adopt the motion to add Smith to the board.
The board also discussed Southern Tier Brewery, which is reportedly eight weeks behind schedule on the construction of a pretreatment wastewater plant to reduce the high levels of byproducts leaving the facility.
Lance Spicer, board chairman, noted that it was not necessarily Southern Tier’s fault, but rather difficulties with scheduling contractors whose projects overlap.
“(Southern Tier) is working in good faith,” he said, with another member noting that estimating the completion date for projects of that nature is difficult.
According to Walsh, the brewery is looking for an operator to manage the pretreatment wastewater plant – Walsh offered to provide an operator but the brewery is looking into other options.
Currently, Southern Tier Brewery is paying a surcharge for dumping the byproducts of the beer-making process.
Walsh also brought up Empire State Specialty Cheese Co. LLC, a company that recently moved into the former Fairbanks Farms location in Blockville.
“We sent a letter to them explaining what we expect,” Walsh said.
According to Walsh, Empire State Specialty Cheese contacted South & Center about emptying two lagoons on the property – a 1 million gallon lagoon and a 2 million gallon lagoon.
Robbins suggested that Walsh insist on a meeting with the plant’s managers to keep an open dialogue about what South & Center expects – there are requirements that the plant must meet, by law.
“It is necessary to have a meeting to make it clear up front what we expect,” Robbins said.
Erlandson asked what liquid was in the lagoons.
“The lagoons are filled with what was leftover from Fairbank Farms,” Walsh said.
South & Center is looking into purchasing an inline monitor to check phosphate levels in the water treatment process that will also measure flow rate.
According to Walsh, the technology of the device was unthinkable in years past.
To conclude the meeting, Walsh discussed recent issues caused by weather.
“We’ve had a lot of problems with the deep freeze. Three vacuum lines broke in Bemus Point – and we never have vacuum lines break.”
When the frost begins to come out of the ground, the properties surrounding Goose Creek are likely to be the most impacted, according to Walsh.
“We will be water testing frequently and assisting the public the best we can,” Walsh said.
The South & Center Sewer District is accepting applications for a water treatment operator position. Currently, four applications have been submitted.