Tuesday July 9, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- A wastewater operator for the village has left his post after pleading not guilty to charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.

Daniel Gay, 41, of Springfield, resigned last week, days after appearing in court in White River Junction. He was cited on Friday, June 28.

Bellows Falls/Rockingham Municipal Manager Willis D. "Chip" Stearns told the Reformer that Gay was given the opportunity to leave and would have been terminated if he had chosen not to. He said Monday the now-vacant position must be refilled as soon as possible and he planned to speak with Wastewater Department Chief Operator Rob Wheeler about all the possible ways to advertise for the job.

Daniel Gay, Jr. (submitted photo)
Daniel Gay, Jr. (submitted photo)
A phone call to the department was not returned.

Stearns said the village, by protocol, must first search in-house for replacements before advertising the vacancy in The Shopper, the village's official newspaper of record. The municipal manager said the wastewater department consisted of just three members until a fourth full-time position was added nine or 10 months ago.

"Now we're down to three and I'm not going to wait 18 to 24 months to refill that fourth position," Stearns said, adding that Wheeler doesn't want to do that either.

Stearns took the time to explain to the Reformer what a wastewater operator does, adding that it is strictly a village position.


Advertisement

"Everybody uses water and everybody discharges water and (the wastewater department's) control is the treatment of discharged water," he said in his office. "In this community there are five pump stations that, every day, have to be checked. The plant itself [located at 80 Mill St.] has to be checked and this crew, by contract, operates the Saxtons River facility, which every day has to be checked.

"And every day there is a series of lab tests that have to be performed," Stearns continued. "So having four guys means that somebody, every weekend, is on call to the alarms and has to come to the plant."

Stearns became the municipal manager on July 1. Before that time, he was juggling the responsibilities of interim municipal manager (following the termination of Timothy Cullenen) and Rockingham finance director. He said the finance department is going through some restructuring and he will "remain still doing, somewhat, both jobs."

Bookkeeper Nicole Gay will become financial assistant to the municipal manager as a result of the restructuring.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.