Whitmire brings attorney to council meeting over sewage issues

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Once Johnson stood up to say he was taking legal action against the town, Arbogast said he felt better. He said his main concern all along was what the town was going to do for or give Whitmire for her troubles.

“It sounds like Mr. Johnson is going to take care of it, so I’m in a much better mood now,” Arbogast said.

Baker, who tripped over his words once Johnson stood up, eventually said he agreed.

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“I think Ms. Whitmire has done something. How’s that? And let’s hope we can get this thing resolved and get her out of the situation she unfortunately finds herself in through no fault of her own,” said Baker.

Tryon recently ordered soil and air samples at Whitmire’s home. John Salmon, with Foothills Crawl Space, took the samples with town manager Joey Davis saying the results should be back in the next week or so.

Johnson told the Bulletin following the meeting he is waiting on the results of the testing prior to filing a lawsuit against the town.

The town installed backflow meters at Whitmire’s home to stop sewage from backing up into places like her bathtub. The meters, however, not only prevented untreated sewer water from entering her home, but also prevented waste water from leaving her home, which meant she could not use her own toilet during heavy rains. Whitmire a few years ago spoke of having toilet paper in her front yard from the manhole overflowing with waste water.

She told council during this week’s meeting that although she didn’t have sewage back up during recent heavy rains, she could hear the pipes gurgling.

“I’ve been in here all these many years and I’m seeing all these germs,” Whitmire told council. “I’m living in a germ box, not you all.”

Arbogast asked Whitmire what she would like for the town to do for her. He asked if she would like for the town to move her to a temporary home.

“Yes,” Whitmire responded. “I want away from anything that looks like a sewer line…for years it hasn’t been fixed and I’m still sitting here waiting on a big rain to come…I’m the one sitting there with a headache and worry. You’re not doing nothing. This is getting to me personally.”

Prior to Johnson revealing himself, Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said at this point the town is discussing the situation with its attorney and is going to fix the sewer line and wait for the environmental studies to come back. The town, with the help of a grant, is replacing the sewer line on East Howard Street to a larger line that runs to the wastewater treatment plant, located at the end of East Howard Street.

Baker had said the town shouldn’t put the cart before the horse.

“We’re all hoping the reports come back favorably but if, of course, they come back badly we’re going to be the first ones to admit it,” said Baker. “We’re not here to hide anything from anybody, that’s why we commissioned the study. That study will be public knowledge to everybody. Whether or not there’s anything that can be done from the study is a question that can’t be answered until the study comes back.”

Council members agreed as soon as the results come back they would let Whitmire know the results. Tryon does not hold a meeting in July, but recessed Tuesday’s meeting until Friday, June 28 at 3 p.m. to adopt the fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.