Highway superintendent says Gaines town supervisor grossly misrepresents facts

Posted 11 September 2017 at 8:06 am


I have been the Highway Superintendent for 24 years, and have never written response letters or engaged in political finger pointing until this current leadership in Gaines. The gross misrepresentation of facts and accusations (made in public) of employees has left me no other option in order to let Gaines people know the truth and how words are twisted.

As to the town’s water loss. The Town Superintendent was notified of the irregularity of water use/loss. For how long? I’m not sure, but I do know our department was the last to learn about this. Ms. Culhane’s knowledge of the water loss prompted an investigation – someone, somewhere was getting free water and someone was going to be held responsible. With her limited understanding of how water lines and meter pits work, I was the target of said investigation, was (and continue to be) the object of her accusations. You may have heard this “water stealing” story brought up if you were approached in recent door to door campaigning.

When our department was informed of this water situation, David Rustay (highway employee) and I checked every meter pit throughout the Town of Gaines. We found one faulty check valve in the meter pit, owned and operated by the town of Ridgeway. This was immediately turned off and the town of Ridgeway was contacted. We agreed to place a bi-directional water meter in the pit. This was installed July 8th. Between July 8 – October 24 there was 382,000 gallons of water that went through this meter. That is 382,000 gallons of water that went through the bi-directional meter was water that would have been previously un-metered.

We believed we found the loss and fixed the problem. This was not good enough. Ms. Culhane was not satisfied with this result. In her mind, there had to be employee infraction and “suspicious” water loss activities; there were violations that needed to be found. Wendel Engineers was hired to do an investigation into the meter pits. Because of the number of meter pits, this investigation was scheduled to take 3 days to complete. Well, it took 3 hours and it cost the tax payers over $9,000. The best $9,000 suggestion Wendel could come up with for an improvement was to padlock and paint inside the pits.

At the October 2013 board meeting, there were 40 people in attendance. This was extremely out of the ordinary – on any given month there are between 6 and 8. It was clearly evident that she invited people to attend and provided some invited individuals with a question. This “staged” meeting was solely for her benefit.

Want another water story? Ms. Culhane denied the continuance of shared services with the town of Murray, which we have done for many years. Murray was going to upgrade/purchase a water meter reader. Our (one time) cost to Murray was going to be $5,500. Instead, Ms. Culhane purchased our very own drive by water meter reader for $30,000. But, this reader will only be used quarterly, for approximately 10 hours per year. How cost effective is that?

Our department is a team that works well together. We are well-skilled and knowledgeable about the jobs and duties we perform. We know what we need, what is useful, what is (or is not) cost effective and what works. When I offered my opinion, based on 24 years of service to the Town of Gaines, that this purchase was not needed, necessary nor cost effective. Ms. Culhane said it was her decision.

Respectfully submitted,

Ron Mannella

Town of Gaines Superintendent of Highways & Water