VIDEO: City of Rainsville issued $4000 ADEM fine for burning, cleanup to cost $40k-$50k.
July 17, 2017
Southern Torch (3655 articles)

VIDEO: City of Rainsville issued $4000 ADEM fine for burning, cleanup to cost $40k-$50k.

PHOTO: Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt gave an update on the action taken by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) in this week’s city council meeting. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

RAINSVILLE, Ala. — (Video at the Bottom) At tonight’s meeting of the Rainsville City Council, Mayor Roger Lingerfelt announced the city would be receiving a $4000 fine for the illegal burning carried out at an unauthorized dump operated by the city. The mayor then explained the situation from his perspective, and since it’s changed dramatically from the last meeting, we decided to help him out with a few inaccuracies:

“At the last council meeting,” began Lingerfelt, “we had brought up about ADEM, that had found some burn sites on city property. So here’s the paperwork from ADEM, they are fining us $4000, which it was in the paper this week, somewhere this week (Vol. 3, No. 27, The Southern Torch, last week) somebody told me that they read the paper and we weren’t getting fined, but they didn’t have the paperwork like I do right here, this came in the 10th (of July), after our last meeting, so that was one day last week.” (The print issue in question came out July 7th, and the story was posted online July 5th)

“This is the findings, this is all the paperwork. Since they’ve done this, and we pay them, then they will officially put a notice in the paper, I don’t know which paper it will be, it will probably be Mountain Valley or the Times-Journal (or The Southern Torch, since we can legally do that:, but it will be a legal notice, that goes in the paper that states, that the City of Rainsville has been found burning stuff down there at that spot for so many years, then it will identify all that and tell about it, and then here’s our fine.”

“Now, some people may think it’s my fault on this burning, it’s not my fault. I have worked really hard, and it’s took up a lot of my time over the last month or so, to try and get this all straightened out. Now, some people may think it was, but it’s not. I inherited this situation, and if you’ve read anything in the paper or seen any of my stuff on TV, when you inherit something like this, the best thing is to do is hit this straight forward and go on and fix it, and that’s what I tried to do,” said Lingerfelt.

“For the ones that thinks I’ve probably done something wrong, then I hate it for them, but I haven’t done anything wrong. And I’m clearing this up tonight, and with this, I’m going to tell you about a projected price when we get done with this project; How much stuff like this costs at the end, when you don’t catch it in time, or somebody that knows about it, don’t step up and stop it, in the years past, they don’t step up and fix this situation. This situation is costing us, because they found it now, it’s costing us $40,000 – $50,000.”

“For the cleanup, the dumping, the fines, all the different things that goes along with this. So, you can point your fingers at whoever you want to, but I inherited this, and I’m fixing this. I’m stopping it right here. So, If you want to blame me, that’s fine, that’s your prerogative, to do whatever you want to. But I’m just telling you, I’m stopping it right here with me, and we’re not burning anymore here in the City of Rainsville, and if I catch them, I’m going to fire them, and if I catch somebody dumping down there or throwing something out down there, I’m going to prosecute them. And that’s just the way it is. You can take it for whatever it’s worth.”

“But it’s a $4000 fine, it’s going to cost us somewhere between $40,000 – $50,000 to fix it back like it needs to be. Now one good positive out of this, is we’ve come up with a plan, that we may move our shop, garage, and all of our sanitation trucks. That may be a spot that we can actually carry those and build us a new garage down there, and get them out of the middle of Rainsville. Turn this part of our property into part of the city, and part of the actual city park.”

Councilman Marshall Stiefel then asked about the change in tune (This exchange begins at 31:40 on the video), “I’d like to add something if I could. You said that you had come full-forth with the ADEM thing; ADEM wasn’t even mentioned. Nobody on this….”

Then the mayor interrupted: “I said today, you’re the one that done all this, because you’re the one that lacks….whatever… you knew about it. I called you on Friday and told you,” said Lingerfelt.

“I called you!” shot back Stiefel.

“Well you called me then, ok, well we talked about it on Friday and I told you about it,” said the mayor.

“When you come in here and presented it, you never said ADEM, you said we were doing some ‘excavating,'” said Stiefel.

“We are, we’re cleaning this up,” replied the mayor.

“You’ve been on this council for 12 years, Rodger. Everyone of these people except Rosson and me….” said Stiefel.

“I think the main thing is,” interrupted Councilman Ricky Byrum, “if you’re speaking of ADEM, and if you know anything about the city at all. This is ain’t the first time the city has been fined by ADEM. If if you go back through the history, and if you do your homework, ADEM is an environmental deal, we get fined down there, we have in the past. It ain’t nothing un-ordinary. You have to deal with EPA and ADEM. There is some other businesses that have had to do a cleanup over the last couple of years.”

As the mayor pointed out, a legal notice is ran in the paper after an ADEM fine, but what he didn’t mention is that ADEM must first send the notice to the city (as Lingerfelt acknowledged receiving on July 10), and once the notice is signed and returned, then ADEM notifies the public. Since it was mentioned in a public forum, the city made it public.

Initially, when we did a thorough search of ADEM’s efile system, and it revealed no other fines or complaints for the City of Rainsville. After the story had ran on our website Tuesday morning, we were called by Mr. Byrum and alerted that the city had also received a $19,000.00 fine regarding the Waste Water Treatment Plant in 2010, while Mayor Lingerfelt and Bejan Taheri were both serving as councilmen. Mr. Byrum is due an apology. Whether or not a fine from almost 10 years ago makes this relevant to the current issue, is up to the public to decide.

Watch the Full Video: 

Southern Torch

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