MVSD worker training hours under investigation

WEATHERSFIELD — The Mahoning Valley Sanitary District is once again under fire as employee training hours are being investigated.

An internal investigation mandated by the MVSD Board found certain discrepancies in the reporting of contact hours at the MVSD, which were reported to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Any employees the investigation finds as not having met the required contact hours will be required to immediately retake courses to meet the required contact hours, regardless of whether those employees have certificates saying the classes had taken place on a certain date, according to a press release.

“This is an ongoing investigation,” MVSD Board President Matt Blair said.

Contact hours are set by the Ohio EPA requiring employees to take certain classes to work at a water purification plant. The contact hours depend on what kind of licenses the employees have, and the courses are required in order for the employees to maintain their licenses, according to Blair.

The investigation is still ongoing, which prevented Blair from releasing how many employees were affected by the discrepancies or what their titles were. While he couldn’t say if any employees were considered at fault, Blair said a computer error or glitch is not thought to be the culprit behind the discrepancies.

Anthony P. Vigorito, 41, of Niles, the plant operations manager of the MVSD, remains on unpaid administrative leave while the investigation is being conducted, Blair said. Vigorito was initially placed on paid administrative leave following a 90-minute executive session on March 29. However, he was later placed on unpaid administrative leave after a unanimous vote from the board on April 26.

Vigorito was indicted in March by a Mahoning County grand jury on two counts each of forgery, non-compliance with the Ohio safe drinking water law and tampering with records at the MVSD in Youngstown.

The indictment stems from 26 Youngstown Water Department employees pleading guilty in February to falsifying their contact hours. The indictment states Vigorito on May 4 and May 5, 2013, claimed he provided training to the employees, which court documents state made them eligible for raises. The indictment also states Vigorito did the same thing on Sept. 18 and 20, 2014.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. His trial has not yet been set, according to court records.

The MVSD distributes water to an estimated 220,000 people in Niles, Youngstown, McDonald, Girard, Canfield, Mineral Ridge, Lordstown, Craig Beach and portions of 10 townships.