SOC requests city’s help with HTS

EAST LIVERPOOL – A local environmental group is asking the city to petition the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for information pertaining to a city company.

Addressing city council Monday, Save Our County President Alonzo Spencer said the group was exercising its First Amendment rights by petitioning council to, in turn, petition the USEPA for information regarding findings of violations issued against Heritage Thermal Services Inc. dated March 23, 2015.

In his request, Spencer said, “This petition could also include any legal action that may be deemed necessary.”

He also asked whether an ad hoc committee of council had yet been formed to delve into the issue, as President of Council John Torma indicated several months ago would be done.

Torma told him information was sought by council regarding HTS and was returned but “none of it was complete,” so forming the ad hoc committee will get underway in the next couple of weeks since new council members have been seated since the request was made.

After Spencer first approached council in September of last year about the March 23 letter, in which he said the company was notified of violations it has committed and the effects of those violations, an HTS spokesman said the company – which operates a hazardous waste incinerator on St. George Street – “is in good faith talks” with the regulatory agency and referred those interested to the company’s Facebook page for its response.

Council at that time agreed to send a letter to the USEPA, requesting the pertinent documents, but a November reply from the agency fell short of what council expected, with then-Councilman Bill Hogue saying he was unable to access the list of online sites concerning enforcement and compliance history that was sent.

Hogue produced at that time a 2015 letter written by an EPA engineer who stated the agency “does not share information on the status of an investigation, negotiation or settlement discussion.”

Council voted in November to send yet another letter to the USEPA, copying it to state and federal legislators, asking again for the information. According to council Clerk Patrick Scafide after Monday’s meeting, no reply has yet been received to his knowledge.

Hogue, who had taken the lead on the issue, chose not to seek re-election in November and is no longer on council.

Spencer said Save Our County would be happy to work with the committee, once in place.

Among legislative matters council approved Monday was an ordinance authorizing creation of a new part-time clerk’s position in the income tax department that will pay $11 per hour.

Although not discussed during the meeting, tax Commissioner Linda Harpold has indicated her plan is to hire someone temporarily for the upcoming busy tax season with the understanding a permanent placement in the position will follow a required Civil Service Commission exam.

Also approved was a resolution requested by fire Chief Bill Jones authorizing the donation of air packs and masks to the Liverpool Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Council approved also a resolution requested by Auditor Marilyn Bosco authorizing establishment of an animal welfare fund into which donations and grants will be placed for a cats and dogs spay/neuter program to help cut down on the stray problem in the city.

Bosco and her friends plan on doing the work involved with the program, which will not involve any city money but will be audited along with other city funds.

In committee reports, street committee Chairman Scott Barrett scheduled a meeting for 5:45 p.m. Feb. 20 during which deputy Service-Safety Director Rick Rudibaugh will be asked to discuss road conditions.

Barrett said, “As councilmen, we always tend to fix roads with the most voters on them. It’s time we step up and do some of the back roads instead of the front roads.”

He said there will be about $260,000 available for the neighborhood street paving program this summer.

With snow anticipated in the forecast this week, Barrett also asked that residents be patient with the crews clearing their streets.

Council also heard from Calcutta resident Curtis Palmer, who owns rental property inside the city and complained that after a drug raid at the property in which “they took everybody out,” he was left with a water bill his tenant had failed to pay for nine months that now totals $900.

After a “little hearing,” Palmer said he was advised to find his former tenants, and he advised, “They’re all in jail; they don’t have anything.”

He was advised by Torma to speak with Service-Safety Director Brian Allen about the issue to try and have it resolved.

The licensing and economic development committee meets at 4 p.m. today, followed at 4:30 p.m. by the refuse and recycling committee. The finance committee will meet at 3 p.m. Feb. 13.