PREBLE COUNTY — Preble County resident Jerry Wick recently filed an Ohio Ethics Commission allegation against Preble County Commissioner Chris Day.
The allegation form reads, “At the time of this incident, Commissioner Chris Day was also employed by the Village of West Alexandria as the administrator of the Waste Water Treatment Plant. Starting in November 2009, the Ohio EPA and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission began to create a plan to force a sewer district on homeowners in the Glenwood area.
“One option of this plan was to pump sewage from this Sewer District Six to the Village of West Alexandria. The IBI Group, the Ohio EPA, and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commissioner were in preliminary discussions with West Alexandria’s WWTP Administrator Chris Day to develop a plan to bring sewage the Sewer District Six would collect. Remember, Chris Day at this time was an elected County Commissioner.
“On Feb. 26, 2015, an Order of Findings was issued to the Preble County Commissioners by the Ohio EPA to construct a sewer system in the Glenwood area. Commissioner Chris Day signed this order.
“A letter dated June 1, 2015, by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission states the Preble County Commissioners, Ohio Revised Cod 6117 ‘may lay out, establish, consolidate, or otherwise modify the boundaries of, and maintain, one or more sewer districts within the county.’
“My position is this a blatant conflict of interest and a ethics violation of an elected official. Commissioner Day can’t have it both ways. Commissioner Day has stated on the record as Preble County Commissioner’s meeting that he just shared public knowledge, gave them facts, and had no bias either way. If the sewage ends up going to West Alexandria WWTP, Commissioner Chris Day’s employer will gain huge financial benefits.
“My brother, James Wick, sat on the West Alexandria Village Council. When I gave him a copy of Page 43 of the Feasibility Study he took it to a council meeting. Not one council member was aware of the discussions Chris Day was having with the IBI Group, the Ohio EPA, or the MVRPC. Chris Day was acting as an agent of the village to bring their sewage to West Alexandria from the Sewer District Six system, and then making decisions and signing papers concerning Sewer District Six [at] the same time.
“Commissioner Day had at the time and currently, a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Preble County who elected him. At the March 9, 2020 Commissioners’ meeting, I asked Commissioner Denise Robertson and Commissioner Rodney Creech if they were aware that Commissioner Day was having discussions with agencies that would decide issues with Sewer District Six that Commissioner Day would than be making decisions and voting on, and both Robertson and Creech stated they didn’t know Commissioner Day was discussing Sewer District Six with outside agencies.
“Commissioner Day’s statements that he was just sharing public knowledge, facts, etc. contradict the fact that he failed to make anyone aware of his discussions with outside agencies with the County Commissioners or the West Alexandria Village Council. All documents, votes, and actions of Commissioner Day should be ruled null and void, and this whole process of planning a sewer district should begin anew.”
At press time, Wick explained, “I feel that there is a conflict of interest as he was in discussions with the contractors hired by the Ohio EPA, as he was the Waste Treatment Plant Administrator for West Alexandria. On the other hand, as an elected Commissioner, he was making decisions on the Sewer District Six. To be fair, I don’t know what was said in these discussions. It’s on record, at the Commissioners’ meeting, [Day] said he was just sharing public knowledge and he had no bias. On the surface it looks like a conflict of interest and worst case scenario there are ethics violations here.
“I was contacted last week by an investigator,” Wick said. “He told me that I needed to get documentation of the verbiage as it was said in these meetings with the IBI Group. If not, after 30 days they’ll close out the investigation.
“If we find out that whatever he was sharing was pertinent to the design and the scope of the sewer district and then as a commissioner he is voting on that, I think this whole Sewer District Six needs to be considered null and void, because it is tainted. We need to start over and stop all the polluting factors in Glenwood, before we start taking samples. That is my position.”
As of press time on Monday, April 6, Commissioner Day had not responded to requests for comment.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH