Eli Ruiz | Democrat
NYSDEC Officer Michael Bello slaps the handcuffs on the driver of the Frederick's Excavating dump truck, whose name could not be learned.
State cites dumpers
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO October 4, 2013 Two people were arrested yesterday for allegedly dumping asbestos-laced debris from the old Village of Monticello Courthouse on Pleasant Street.
Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins reportedly asked a contractor who was clearing the site to dump the debris on the contractor’s property. This after Jenkins was rebuffed by his own Department of Public Works (DPW).
At approximately 1 p.m. yesterday investigators with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with Region 3 out of New Paltz arrested two individuals in the process of dumping one of 18 debris loads that have been left on the Ripple Road site since demolition of the old Village Courthouse began on Tuesday.
The large dump truck used in the incident belonged to Frederick’s Excavating out of Middletown. According to a source who wished not to be named, as of this writing, seven people were in custody in relation to this matter.
The property where the debris was being unloaded was directly behind the old Burnwell Oil structure and is allegedly owned by local contractor Mike Soto, who is the same contractor in charge of the courthouse demolition project and the removal of its debris.
Furthermore a 9 mm handgun was recovered from the dump truck by law enforcement officials.
According to Village Trustee Carmen Rue, Mayor Jenkins explicitly asked workers from the DPW to illegally dump the old courthouse debris at the Ripple Road site and was subsequently refused by his workers.
Reached on his cellphone, DPW head Jim Steinberg said he had no comment on the allegations.
Rue said, “I was approached by some of the [DPW] workers who said that they were asked by Gordon to dump this stuff up there… these guys are scared.”
Added Rue, “I asked Soto myself what he was doing with the debris and he said ‘He [Jenkins] wants to save some money on this so he said to just put it anywhere.’”
Rue continued, “The mayor never once came to the board to even ask about this demolition proposal… he was supposed to call an emergency meeting and bring this to the board… he never proposed this to us. The mayor and his code enforcement officer [James Snowden] made this $5,000 agreement all on their own.”
Rue claims Soto was charging the village the $5,000 figure for his services in the demolition of the courthouse structure.
Reached on his cellphone, Snowden said, “You’ve caused us quite a bit of grief… my job site is now shut down here.”
Asked if he knew of the illegal dumping, Snowden offered, “We had no idea. He [Soto] said it was his property, that’s it.”
Mayor Jenkins was headed to his home state of Georgia as of this writing and did not answer several calls to his cellphone as this story went to press.
Read more on this story in Tuesday’s Democrat.