Tryon seeks solution for Whitmire’s sewage woes

Published 7:18 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013


Whitmire’s daughter Sonya Glover was on the brink of tears talking of what her mother faces outsider her own home.

“Whatever you do its not going to fix the problem with the contaminated soil,” Glover said. “My sister who has spent  years in the military she doesn’t even come home because my momma doesn’t want her to come home and see this.  When it rains you all sit there in your house and don’t even worry about it.”

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Councilman Baker argued that Council members do worry about it, that they’ve even been by to look at the problem.

“But looking at it and doing something about it are two different things,” Glover explained to council.

Miller said he agreed that it was time to remedy this situation.

He said the town has received a trunk line sewer grant to address the problem of aging lines with infiltration points that have allowed millions of gallons of sewer water to flood the system. A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) would provide $537,738, while the town has to come up with the remaining $164,169 to increase the 12-inch line to a 24-inch line, as required by the state. But council found out from engineer John Hollifield on May 21 the project would not be completed until the end of the year.

“Certainly it will not address what has happened in the last 14 years but it will hopefully fix the problem now,” Hollifield said.

Miller said officials hope the line would fix the problem but they don’t know it will fix it.

Wim Woody said the town hasn’t had the money to come up with a solution before now.

“The problem is we don’t have alternatives,” Woody said. “We have moved through this grant process and hopefully this will fix the problem.”

But Woody acknowledged that it might not.


Moving forward

Councilman Doug Arbogast was not present at the meeting because of family needs but said in an email to the Bulletin that every time the issue has come up it has been pushed off to a future meeting with no solution in sight.

“I do not think the town should spend another cent on anything or focus on any other project until this lady is moved to a safe residence and plans to insure her future is in place,” Arbogast said. “And the town needs to offer free sewer for life, but if I were her, I would not want to live where she needed to rely on our sewer system or this governing board.”

Baker said he thinks, “it is high time” the city fix it. But he said the city is trying to sort out what can be done legally.

“Morally I think we should just get you a new house. I don’t have any quarrel with that, but what can we do legally? We are bound unfortunately by the law,” Baker said to Whitmire. “I’d like a suggestion from you what you would like us to do … I would be as disgusted as you are and I’m frankly embarrassed – for the town because we have a citizen who’s paying taxes, and paying her water bills and paying her sewer bills and who is being abused in my opinion. Now the town is not abusing you, but we are not fixing your problem and that is what we are supposed to do. But I don’t know what to do.”

Tryon resident Mary Prioleau at one point asked if the town did not have the money to at least move Whitmire into a rental house? Whitmire told the Bulletin later that she hated to move into a rental property because of a problem the city couldn’t fix and then move again.

But staying in the home isn’t a solution either, she said.

Council eventually passed on a directive to manager Joey Davis and attorney Bailey Nager to determine what the costs and legalities would be of relocating Whitmire to an existing or new structure.

In the meantime, as Tryon attempts to determine its next move Whitmire continues to live in her home where on Wednesday, May 22, as another steady rain moved through the area, she said she was worried to even use the restroom.