Update: Elkins Sanitation Department Quarantines

Left: City Councilor Chris Lowther. Right: Sanitation Department Loader Charles Westfall.

Last Monday, City of Elkins announced that “garbage pickup in Elkins may be delayed or disrupted over the next few weeks due to personnel shortages resulting in part from exposures to the COVID-19 virus.”

Today, Operations Manager Bob Pingley provides the following update:

“We seem to have weathered the storm with regards to the Sanitation Department, at least for now. We have enough employees back that the department can operate on its own, with only one  employee still out on quarantine.

“We couldn’t have done it without numerous people stepping up and lending a hand to make sure the job got done. Donnie Hedrick, Water Distribution Department supervisor, and Brad Curtis, Building Maintenance supervisor, got the opportunity to brush up on their garbage truck driving skills. Paul Youtzy and Danny Harris from the Central Garage pitched in, as did the entire Street Department. Ron Corcoran from the Fire Department hauled roll-offs for us. We also appreciated the assistance of Elkins City Councilor Chris Lowther.

“It’s teamwork like this that allows us to continue to provide the critical services that our residents depend on. And it’s the opportunity to work with people like these that is the best part of my job here with the city.”

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Elkins Garbage Collection Disrupted Due to Quarantined Employees

Elkins, W. Va., January 4, 2021: Garbage pickup in Elkins may be delayed or disrupted over the next few weeks due to personnel shortages resulting in part from exposures to the COVID-19 virus, City of Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley announced today. Four of the department’s five drivers are in quarantine, and the department is three short of its normal complement of loaders.

“To maintain our regular level of service, I’ve pulled employees from three other departments to work as drivers and loaders,” said Pingley. “These are some of our best employees and will do all that they can, but unfortunately they just do not know these routes like our regular drivers do.”

As a result, Pingley says, not all garbage may be collected on time or as usual.

“We’ll do our best to get all garbage picked up on schedule, but there are inevitably going to be some hiccups as we go along. We ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we work through this unprecedented situation.”

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Elkins to Recognize Sanitation Department Employees for Bravery

Intervention Prevented Child’s Serious Injury or Death

Elkins, W. Va., December 21, 2020: Elkins Mayor Van Broughton will recognize three City of Elkins Sanitation Department employees for intervening to end an assault on a child in an alley near the city’s Sanitation Department building last week. The recognition ceremony, which will honor COE employees Brandon Harris, Brian Jenkins, and Zachary Ketterman, will be held in the Elkins City Hall council chamber at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Last Friday, Harris, Jenkins, and Ketterman were working in the Sanitation Department building when they heard sounds of distress outside. Exiting the building to investigate, they saw a woman struggling with a small boy. A call to 911 around this time reported that a woman was attempting to “drown a child in a puddle.” Elkins Police Department officers raced to the scene.

Before police arrived, Harris, Jenkins, and Ketterman had separated the child from the woman, brought him inside the Sanitation Department building, and locked the doors. The child was wet and shivering, the men later told police, and his lips were blue. They dried him off and began wrapping him in articles of their own clothing to try to warm him up.

“I instructed Mr. Harris to take the child inside of my patrol car where the heat was running,” said EPD Senior Patrolman Kevin Shiflett, who was now on scene along with EPD Patrolman First Class William Butcher. “While Mr. Harris and the child got inside of the vehicle we were alerted by Mr. Ketterman and Mr. Jenkins that the female subject was back outside.”

When Butcher and Shiflett contacted the suspect, who was later identified as Catherine Briggs, she charged them and was tased before being restrained and placed under arrest. Officer Butcher took custody of Briggs while Shiflett ran back to his vehicle.

“I drove Mr. Harris and the child to the Davis Medical Center emergency department,” said Shiflett. “The child was later released. I did go and see the child on Saturday, and he appeared to be doing well, all things considered.”

Shiflett was impressed by the three Sanitation Department employees’ quick thinking and selfless actions.

“Brandon Harris showed great courage and compassion in a risky situation,” says Shiflett. “Seeing a child in danger, he didn’t hesitate to jump in and take that child to safety. I also commend Zack Ketterman and Brian Jenkins for backing him up, securing the building, and providing the child with warmth from their own coats.”

Shiflett says his investigation was further aided by Donald Huffman, an employee of a property management company that operates a nearby apartment building.

“Mr. Huffman contacted me to advise that their cameras had captured footage of the incident,” says Shiflett. “Mr. Huffman provided me with a clear video that’s really going to help make our case in court.”

The terrible incident could have turned out much worse if it hadn’t been for the intervention by Harris, Jenkins, and Ketterman.

“In a perfect world something like this would never happen at all but thank goodness it happened near three people who were so ready to help,” says Shiflett. “On behalf of myself, EPD, and the Elkins community, I want to thank all three of these men for stepping up like they did.”

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