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CN encourages public to participate in safety efforts as trespassing and crossing fatalities across Canada rise

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Dreger, Hastings drilled on alleged oil spill

Alliance City Council members had plenty of questions remaining regarding the Westville Lake situation, especially in conjunction with an alleged hazmat incident on March 7

During Monday’s regular council meeting, Lawrence Dordea, R-3, questioned an incident related to seven audio files The Alliance Review obtained from the Alliance Police Department’s dispatch center, which began with an initial call shortly after 5 p.m. from Alliance Fire Chief Jason Hunt, asking them to contact Water Distribution Foreman Chet Jones on behalf of Superintendent Doug Hastings, whose cellphone went dead in mid-call when reporting an alleged spill. According to that audio recording, Hunt relayed that Hastings was out at Westville Lake campground when a hydraulic line broke and released oil into the lake. “Can you please tell Chet that I’ve notified North Georgetown Fire Department, and I will call the EPA as soon as I get off the phone with you?”

Within four minutes, an Alliance police dispatcher successfully contacted Jones, who apparently relayed he was now with Hastings, though it is unclear if they were at that scene or another location. She relayed, “(The chief) already called North Georgetown Fire Department and is calling the EPA.”

Jones responded, “We need to talk to Jason. Is there a possibility you can call him and give him my number?”

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To the dispatcher’s inquiry if Jones knew what happened, specifically “(Hastings) hit a hydraulic line out there,” the foreman responded. “I am sitting here with Doug right now … Doug said maybe you can get a hold of Jason real quick before he calls the EPA.”

However, in the meantime, Hunt had already called the EPA before Alliance dispatch was contacted by Sebring police, which dispatches for North Georgetown Fire Department. According to Sebring dispatch, North Georgetown responders arrived on scene at Westville Lake, found no water distribution personnel there and approximately 30 to 50 feet of sheen on the lake courtesy of a nearby creek. Capt. Rob Hardy of North Georgetown Fire Department told Alliance police dispatch approximately 40 minutes into the incident that they were going to try and “dam it up .. to get the oil (from) running into the lake and contact (their) hazmat team,” again stressing that they needed employees — and possibly Hastings — out there at the scene.

A check of timesheets acquired by The Alliance Review for March 7 show that in addition to Hastings, who worked 11 1/2 hours, three employees (Jones, Dana Bericchia and Charlie Vance Jr.) noted overtime due to “stay over for Westville Lake issue.” However, communications between Hunt and Alliance dispatch only acknowledged the presence of Hastings and Jones. In response to a question from Council, Hastings said he was not the driver of the backhoe during the incident.

[Article continues below]

A water distribution office employee confirmed that water distribution employees typically work four 10-hour days per week between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. On March 7, both Bericchia and Vance recorded 2 1/2 hours overtime each, while Jones, whom Hastings had been trying to reach per Hunt’s 5:01 p.m. call, tallied 1 1/4 hours of overtime. Dordea had several questions for city Safety-Service Director Michael Dreger, including why an audio recording appeared to imply that Hastings tried to stop Hunt from contacting the EPA. Dreger disputed Dordea’s interpretation of the dialogue, saying, “I don’t believe that it was what you heard indicated there.”

In an effort to clarify the issue before the council meeting, Dordea said he contacted the Ohio EPA for the report, which allegedly acknowledged another “chief,” Hastings, as a contact in addition to Hunt, who reported the incident.

Dreger told Dordea that he wasn’t sure how the EPA had made such an assumption, adding that he didn’t “believe Doug Hastings identified himself as a fire chief and I don’t know why anyone would accuse him of that.”

Dreger told Jim Edwards, R-at large, that city employees contained the spill themselves, utilizing some equipment stashed at Walborn Reservoir. “Basically the volume was low enough, there was nothing substantive there,” Dreger said. Dordea then inquired about Hastings’ allegedly not having an Ohio driver’s license, since Hastings drives a city-owned vehicle and is listed on the city’s insurance policy as a supervisor. Dreger told Dordea he was unsure about that the license issue, but Hastings verified he does not have an Ohio driver’s license. Dordea then responded to Dreger, “Again, isn’t this a little sloppy, Mike?

“We sit up here and get water reports all the time. However, we don’t hear about the hazmat situation at Westville Lake, and we don’t hear that … (our) water superintendent does not live in Ohio If he lives in Ohio, then he has an Ohio driver’s license, Mike. You cannot be here more than two months and have a Florida driver’s license. That’s the law,” Dordea, a former Alliance police chief, said. Dordea said the city’s policy manual requires employees to have an Ohio driver’s license, alleging that Hastings would be in violation of that.

In addition to answering questions about upgrades to the Westville Lake property and the hiring of a private security guard, Dreger also informed council that he was to meet Tuesday with Westville Lake residents at the skating rink on U.S. Route 62.

No new information has been made available regarding the status of the Westville Lake Spillway despite the expectation of a report to be issued this month from state officials.

AuRico Metals Provides Corporate Update

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