Letter writer expresses concerns

over exposed gas main

Editor, News Watchman,

I’m writing to express my concerns regarding an exposed gas main and the tedious steps that I’ve gone through to have the problem fixed. More specifically, the lack of interest that I’ve encountered from our county’s commissioner, Fred Foster. I have a property that is located on Waverly Gables Blvd. One day, as I was working in my backyard, my fellow neighbor pointed out the exposed gas main. This gas main provides natural gas to approximately 20-plus homes in the hospital hill community. Natural gas is highly combustible; therefore a rupture in this line has the potential to cause a catastrophic fire and/or explosion. In addition, it places the surrounding neighbors at harm. I have chosen to write this letter as an advocate of my community in hopes to fix a serious problem that has the potential to cause great harm. I would like to also illustrate the lack of concern and accountability from our county’s commissioner, Fred Foster.

The underlying cause of the exposed gas main is a soil erosion problem. The problem lies directly underneath the exposed gas main. Years ago, concrete storm drain pipes were all connected and drained over the hill across an electrical right of way. Over the years, the drain pipes have come apart and caused a soil erosion problem. There is an exposed concrete storm drain pipe that lies directly underneath the gas main and if this pipe were to move/shift due to soil erosion, the exposed gas main could rupture. This has been problematic for a number of years. In fact, Pee Pee Township took ownership several years ago and repaired it. However, over the years, the lack of maintenance and annual inspections of the concrete storm drain pipes have recreated the problem.

Furthermore, allow me to explain the cumbersome steps that I’ve taken to have the soil erosion problem fixed. My first contact was with our county’s engineer, Denny Salisbury. Denny evaluated the property as I expressed my concerns. He explained that the county did not have the proper equipment to repair the soil erosion problem. In addition, he stated it was the responsibility of our commissioner, Fred Foster, to have it repaired. My next step was a conference call with county commissioners, in which I made no progress. Shortly after, I encountered Fred Foster at the engineer’s office where he had the audacity to approach me and ask if the township had initiated the process of repairing the problem. My next contact was with Pee Pee Township trustee David Dewitt. I went to his house on several occasions, in which he was professional and sincere on all encounters. Although he mentioned township funds were limited, he was willing to assist as much as possible. In order to proceed with the repair, David needs the approval of Denny, which in turn, Denny needs the approval of Fred. My last encounter was the Pee Pee Township trustee Jimmy Helton. I encountered Jimmy at an auction, where he mentioned that he was aware of the problem and that it would be repaired. I later visited his store, Helton’s Feed & Seed, where I notified him that I was unable to attend the township meeting that was being held that night due to a doctor’s appointment. When I called Jimmy the next morning to discuss the details of the meeting, he mentioned that the Pee Pee Township trustees are blaming the parking lot of Adena Pike Medical Center for the soil erosion problem and that it’s ultimately the county’s responsibility to repair it. He proceeded to inform me that it is my responsibility to organize a meeting with the Pee Pee Township, the county trustees, the county engineer, the county commissioners, and Adena Pike Medical Center to further address the problem. I find it troubling that it’s my responsibility to coordinate the busy schedules of several individuals to hold an unnecessary meeting.

In conclusion, I’ve spent a great amount of time and effort in attempting to repair a problem that not only directly impacts my life and safety but also the lives of an entire community. One of the primary roles of a county commissioner is to provide for the safety and welfare of the county’s residents. It is also my understanding that a county commissioner is responsible for managing county property. Fred Foster has failed to recognize and address the needs of the honorable citizens of Pike County. There is no room for lip service when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of our county residents. It has been over four months and there is still no solution to the soil erosion problem. I’ve been bounced around from person to person with no definite answer; it should not be this difficult. When it comes to leadership, accountability, and change, the citizens of Pike County deserve a reputable county commissioner. Re-electing Fred Foster is a step backwards. We need a county commissioner that is willing to step up to the plate and make things happen. We don’t need someone like Fred Foster to ignore pertinent issues and push it off to the next person. Vote for someone that will serve the best interest of our county and residents. Vote for change! Make your voices loud and clear!

Wayne Wallette

Waverly, Ohio

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