Troy manager and resident clash at meeting Troy Borough Manager apologizes for behavior
TROY - Troy Borough Manager Dan Close lost his composure at Tuesday's council meeting, becoming angry with a resident who questioned him tirelessly about a recent issue with the borough's water system.
At the meeting, Bill Middleton of Sylvania Borough spoke to council and Close about a letter that was sent out to borough residents by the borough, in accordance with the state Department of Environmental Protection's requirements.
It notified residents that from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, 2013, Troy Borough's water system did not meet treatment technique requirements.
The letter read, "We are required to maintain a disinfectant residual of 0.40 mg/L in the water supplied to consumers. Water samples taken on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2 & 3, 2013, showed a disinfectant residual concentration of 0.20 mg/L, which constituted a breakdown in treatment."
It noted that as a result of this breakdown in treatment, there was a risk that the water may have contained disease-causing organisms. The borough had been required at that time to notify residents to use boiled or bottled water, until the problem was corrected on Dec. 4.
According to a summary in the letter, it was determined on Nov. 30 that the chlorine residual level dropped below the minimum chlorine residual required.
"We failed to notify both DEP and consumers within 24 hours of the problem," the borough stated in the letter. To return the chlorine residual to an acceptable level, the borough repaired a leaking line, changed chlorine containers and improved communications using standard operating guidelines.
When he got up to speak, Middleton said he wanted to talk about the letter the borough sent out. He wanted to know why the residents hadn't been informed.
There was some discussion back and forth between Close and Middleton about how to describe what had happened.
"So, they were 'below standard water tests?'" Middleton asked.
Close advised him of DEP's requirements in regard to the chlorine. "If it goes below that (the requirement), we are to notify DEP and we're to put in a boil advisory and we're to notify the public that we're below that level, so that they know there's the possibility of contamination."
"We ran for several days under that number and we weren't informed of that until the paperwork from the previous month was turned in," he continued. "When the paperwork for November was turned in and we saw the low number, we immediately asked what was going on, found out there were three more days in December that were below the number. We immediately notified DEP. We immediately put that letter out to the public letting them know. And DEP is the one who put the verbiage in the letter that said, 'you don't need to do anything because the problem's already been corrected."
Close said, "the corrective measures that we took satisfied DEP to the point that there is no fine, no conference required, everything is fine."
He said DEP and the borough do not feel anyone was in any danger, personnel issues were addressed, and "the problem is solved."
Still not satisfied, Middleton asked, "Our borough employee didn't realize that anything was wrong?"
"I'm not going to go into employee issues here," Close said.
After some further comments by Middleton, Close provided some more details.
"The individual doing the testing knew, and knew that DEP had to be contacted and it didn't happen," he said. He also said the individual knew that the borough management had to be contacted and this wasn't done.
"It's been dealt with, I'm not going any further than that," he said.
Middleton asked, "so, you're saying that on Dec. 2nd or 3rd, the Monday or Tuesday, you knew nothing about it?"
"Exactly," Close said.
Middleton then asked about the procedure, and Close told him that the procedure has been "updated" since the incident so that he is notified "if it hits .5 mg/L so that there is some time to take some action before critical mass." He said the procedure has been strengthened.
Middleton's questions then centered on whether there was a borough employee in the water plant on Dec. 1.
Close was concerned that the conversation was turning into a personnel matter. He got up and left, and advised council "not to go any further with it."
A short while later, Close then came back into the meeting and lashed out at Middleton about what appeared to be something personal between the two.
Close said he was concerned about some accusatory comments that he said Middleton made about him.
"I'm tired of it," Close continued. "You've made some statements buddy that deserve a lot more treatment than what I've given you. And my next step will be a lawyer. I am tired of what you are up to, I'm tired of what you're doing, I'm done with it."
"This has become a personal attack," Close told Middleton. "You have publicly stated that you want me fired." Middleton did not deny it.
Close then left again. The meeting was adjourned.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Troy Borough Manager Daniel J. Close provided this statement following Tuesday's Troy Borough Council meeting.
First of all I would like to apologize to Council and the residents of Troy Borough for my behavior in today's public meeting. I failed to keep my personal feelings in check and I sincerely regret my actions. I would like to take this opportunity to explain to the people of our community some background leading up to my actions today, as I feel an explanation is owed to them.
The individual who I directed my remarks at has been focused for at least a year on nothing but personal attacks on not only Council members and me, but also on my family. These personal attacks include unfounded accusations of theft, embezzlement and misappropriations of funds. Most of this has been done through the social media and some through the print media (such as suggesting borough management should be replaced). This person does this on baseless rumors and innuendoes made by him as well as others. The most recent remarks found in the social media accuse one of my family members of getting Borough money to build his business has caused considerable stress on my both me and my family. That business was built through his hard work, long hours and a dedicated commitment to customer satisfaction and a quality product and I am very proud of his accomplishment, and this no doubt is a factor in my failure to keep my emotions in check today. I felt that I answered questions pertaining to the issue at hand fully and truthfully, both to the Counsil's satisfaction as well as the public in attendance at the meeting. It became apparent to me that this individual would not be satisfied with any response the Borough could provide and that his comments were nothing more than a way to agitate me to the point where I was unable to restrain myself in a professional manner.
The combination of the ceaseless social media attacks on Borough operations and employees over the past year and a personal vendetta against me personally have taken a toll. I care about this community and the people I serve deeply, and I offer my most sincere apology for failing to retain my composure at today's Council meeting.