By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO The fate of the Monticello Walmart’s grocery section rests on one more state inspection.
The store has failed the past four inspections, primarily due to persistent rodent droppings and gnaw marks on a variety of food for sale.
According to NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets spokeswoman Jessica Ziehm, if Walmart fails a fifth unannounced inspection coming sometime this week, the matter will go to an independent hearing officer.
If the store passes inspection, it will continue to operate as it does now.
Otherwise, on June 13, the hearing officer will listen as both Walmart officials and representatives of the NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets make their cases for the store’s future.
The officer will then determine whether or not to revoke the Monticello Walmart’s food processing license, which allows the store to handle raw food in various departments.
The hearing is open to the public, though no public comment will be taken. It will be held at 11 a.m. at the department’s offices at 10B Airline Drive in Albany.
“It’s not a regulatory hearing, just an adjudicatory hearing,” Ziehm explained.
But if the store’s license is revoked, sections like the deli and meat department will be shut down.
Then if Walmart fails a subsequent inspection in the non-raw-food sections of the grocery, the state will ask the court to prohibit the store from selling any food, said Ziehm.
Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said the company is taking the matter seriously.
“This should not have gotten to this point,” she stated, calling the failed inspections “unacceptable.”
“We are aggressively working to resolve this issue,” she affirmed.