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Raw sewage leads to communication confusion

The smell of honeysuckle looms thick in the air. The blossoms hang delicately from a fence made of timber frame and hardware cloth. They are a welcome respite from the stench. For nearly five months, Barnesville resident Shane Stepanski has dealt with the smell of raw sewage that floats up from the drain pipes and creek on Holmes Street, near the Gordon campus. Stepanski’s largely rental property neighborhood is one of the few places you would expect such an environmental nightmare. ”I’ve seen the water run discolored with paper floating in it. And the smell? It’s awful, especially on warmer days. It’s hard to even stand outside,” he said. The City of Barnesville has sent workers out in the past to flush out sewer lines in the area. However, they have backed up again. Stepanski admits to not formally filing a complaint with the city but notes, “I don’t even know who to call. Who handles raw sewage? Is it the water company or the city? I just hope when I do see them on this street they’re finally fixing the problem.” Following the water (and the stench) upstream leads to Lamar Tire on College Drive where mechanic John Jackson is familiar with the problem. ”Now that the days are getting hotter the smell is getting worse,’ he said. At times had to take a break and head inside to avoid the smell and stay focused on his job. ”I told my boss about it and told him it was getting hard to work out here now,” Jackson said. Owner Kip Pelt agreed. “I have been out there and smelled it. It’s not good,” he reported. Pelt also cited some confusion regarding reporting the issue. ”I’ve spoken with a few people who work with the city and told them about the problem. I don’t want to point any fingers and I have no issue with the city. I just keep hoping the problem gets fixed soon,” he added. The problem is obvious to the yes and the nose. What is not so obvious is the solution. City public works director Jason Shirey said he had received no formal complaints on the matter. ”I checked the call logs and there were no reports of a direct complaint from Holmes Street in the neighborhood mentioned,” Shirey said. “What we typically do in these scenarios is dispatch workers to investigate the suspected issue and perform preventative maintenance. All calls are logged at city hall during work hours then dispatched to the appropriate department.” What about utility emergencies? What do citizens do if city hall is closed? ”After business hours, residents should call the fire department which will then dispatch emergency crews if necessary. Every city employee has one goal ‘“ to make Barnesville better and answer the needs of its residents,” Shirey said. He also dispatched a crew to check the Holmes Street problem. City workers pumped and washed out the sewage and drainage pipes. “We’ve been to this exact spot before. We’ve flushed this system as well as the pipe at Jr. Food Mart. Sometimes these build-ups take time to reveal themselves. If you have to keep flushing it out, that means there may be a problem somewhere in the line,” a worker on the scene said.

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