Parents: Plug sewage leak

By Heather Condley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

A grassy section of the playground has been fenced off since April when maintenance workers noticed the sewage, which is leaking from a broken discharge line running from property next door to the school.

After conducting a dye test to determine that the sewage was indeed coming from next door, the health department sent a notice to George Plesotis, owner of the property on S.R. 44, on April 17 stating that he was responsible for fixing the problem within 21 days.

Portage County Health Commissioner Kenneth Rupp said that the 21-day notice is typical and is required by the Ohio Revised Code.

"During that time, you don't have to have all the work done, you can have documentation that you contacted a contractor," Rupp said. "If we get no response and the condition continues to exist, it goes to the prosecutor."

The Portage County Prosecutor's Office has filed for an injunction against Plesotis on behalf of the health department.

"We've filed a lawsuit for an injunction to prohibit discharge of sewage on the Crestwood property," said Victor Vigluicci, Portage County prosecuting attorney. "This requires the septic to be brought up to code."

Trial is scheduled for Aug. 22 and will go forward unless Plesotis takes care of the problem, Vigluicci said.

"He hasn't indicated to us that the work is under way. We want it done right away," he said. "If they come to us and say the work is under way, we'll verify that and we won't proceed (with the court case) until we have a definite date from the contractor. We won't just stop on promises."

But attorney Herb Kane, representing Plesotis, said his client is ready to repair the septic system, but that it can't be done until the school district repairs a tile that was broken during the playground's construction.

"Plesotis has got to repair the septic system, he's ready to do it, but you've got to have the overrun go somewhere. That's what we're waiting to get straightened out," he said. "We can't get it operating without drainage. (The school and Plesotis) have to work contemporaneously."

Kane added that the school has assigned an employee to meet with Plesotis and work out the problem, but Steve Zabor, president of the Crestwood Board of Education, said the school district is waiting for word from the health department before they take any action.

"Some people would like us to do more than we have to. Since the prosecutor has set a court date, we're waiting for them to take action against Mr. Plesotis. We're actually, in a sense, out of the loop for the moment," he said. "We're going to follow the lead of the health department and do at least what they say we ought to do. We'll do anything necessary for the safety of the students."

For now, the health department says that because the section of the playground is fenced off, it doesn't pose a health threat to school employees or the children.

"It's safe to use the playground because they stay away from the area. We closed it off as soon as we found out about it," said Rupp, who added that there have been no reported illnesses in connection to the leak.

But parents of Shalersville students are still concerned about the safety of their children.

Parent Teacher Organization member Holly Dennison has invited school officials, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and others involved to a meeting with the Portage County Health Department today. The parents are hoping to be updated about the sewage and how their health concerns can be addressed.

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