July 31, 2014

Elyria
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Suspension over cloudy water cleared from utilities chief’s file

LORAIN — Discipline against Utilities Director Corey Timko over water contamination has evaporated.

Law Director Pat Riley said Monday that he recommended the 30-day paid suspension be removed from Timko’s personnel file over contamination at the water plant on April 9 and 10. Riley said he mediated discussions between Timko, who appealed the suspension, and Service Director Robert Gilchrist, who suspended him.

City officials said the water, which had cloudiness known as turbidity, was flushed and never reached the public. However, a delay in notifying the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and a belated city boil advisory notification led to two workers quitting after being disciplined by Gilchrist.

Gilchrist said in April that Timko’s suspension was due to him demoting James Miller from acting water plant superintendent but continuing to give Miller excellent evaluations. Gilchrist blamed a chemical underfeed and failure to clean sludge basins that caused the contamination on Miller and Mark Petrie, former lead operator for purification. Both quit after being disciplined.

Timko — a city employee since 2000 who earns $78,340 — didn’t return a call for comment late Monday. Gilchrist, who is leaving his post to become Lorain County Community Action Agency executive director Aug. 1, said Monday he received new information that led to the removal of the discipline. Gilchrist said he preferred to think of Timko’s punishment as “corrective behavior” rather than discipline.

“If you focus on it saying discipline, then that means you’re not interested in correcting the behavior,” Gilchrist said. “Correcting behavior means let’s address the problem. Let’s find out how we can fix the problem.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.