Plug pulled on controversial sewer hook-up

Published 2:59 pm Saturday, January 31, 2009

POWELLSVILLE – The now infamous sewer line connecting a residence owned by former Bertie County Schools’ Superintendent John Smith Sr. to the C.G. White High More at Four and Preschool wastewater system has been disconnected.

“The line was disconnected after due notice was given to the resident and the owner,” current Bertie Superintendent of Schools’ Dr. Chip Zullinger confirmed Friday.

The Bertie County Board of Education voted in November of last year to have the sewer line disconnected. Then board member Melinda Eure at the time said, “This should have been done a long time ago.”

After meeting with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the school district decided to give Smith and the tenants of his mobile home 30 days notice before cutting the sewer line. That was done in December of 2008.

The sewer line has been the subject of much discussion and even an investigation authorized by the Bertie County Board of Education.

That investigation, conducted by Richard A. Schwartz of Schwartz and Shaw Attorneys, was forwarded to a variety of government organization for possible criminal investigation.

The findings of the investigation, as reported to the Bertie County school board via an executive summary, said Smith did not get proper board approval to hook his personal property up to the wastewater treatment system operated by Bertie schools.

Also, the summary indicated that former school board chairman Gary Cordon misrepresented the board by saying it had approved the septic system hookup when no such approval had allegedly been given.

Among those who received the report was District Attorney Valerie Asbell. She forwarded her copy to Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins who opened an investigation into the matter.

On Friday, Detective Sgt. Ed Pittman of the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation was continuing at this time.