Village shifts staff after guilty plea of DPW chief

CHATHAM–The Village Board this week approved sending Public Works employee Phil Genovese to training for water and sewer operator licenses so that the village will have two operators, as mandated by the state, at the treatment plant.  The normally routine assignment was necessary following the resignation of the head of the village Department of Public Works, who recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a police investigation of unauthorized use of fuel paid for by the village.

At the regular meeting February 9 the board also appointed two licensed Water and Sewer Department employees from the Village of Philmont to act as back-up for Ed Czyzewski, the senior plant operator, while Mr. Genovese is getting his certification.

Board member George Grant, the Chatham village water and sewer commissioner, said at the meeting that former Public Works Foreman and Plant Operator Chris Sperl has resigned, but Mayor Tom Curran was non-committal about the status of Mr. Mr. Sperl. The mayor said the issue of Mr. Sperl is still in the courts.

Mr. Sperl was arrested last month and faced multiple charges related to alleged theft of diesel fuel from the village. He pled guilty in court last week to a single misconduct charge, a misdemeanor, and was fined.

Mr. Czyzewski and Mr. Genovese already work for the village Public Works Department, which includes the water and sewer plants, and both attended the meeting.

“We have had very good luck… educating from within,” said Trustee David Chapman, who serves as commissioner public works.

“Phil knows the ropes,” said the mayor.

The two licensed operators from Philmont were hired at a rate of $17 per hour if they do need to step in to help at water and sewer plant before Mr. Genovese finishes his training.

On another matter, Mr. Chapman said that the village is moving forward with the “Safe Sidewalks to School” program, made possible by a grant awarded to the village to repair sidewalks on Woodbridge Avenue.

Mr. Chapman also announced that he will not run for reelection after more than a decade of service. But he said he will help the mayor spearhead the sidewalk project. Construction should start this summer.

The mayor appointed three new people to the Board of Review at Grievance Day, Tuesday February 21 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the village hall. Village residents wishing to grieve their assessments may appear before the board on that day. Trustees Lael Locke and Mr. Chapman have stepped down from the review board. Trustee Grant will stay on.

Village elections will be held at the Tracy Memorial March 20 from noon to 9 p.m. Registration day is March 10 from noon to 5 p.m.

In update on the state’s plan to put traffic lights at the intersection of Routes 66 and 295 at the railroad crossing, the mayor said he has talked to State Senator Steve Saland (R-41st) and Assemblymen Steve McLaughlin (R-108th) about the lights. “They will support us,” he said of the concern in the village that lights may create new problems. The mayor said that both lawmakers told him they plan ask the state Department of Transportation to delay installing lights until the village can decide the best plan for improving safety at the intersection.

“I have not heard a peep back from DOT yet,” said the mayor.

The next board meeting is Tuesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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