MVSD to keep consulting firm during transition

MINERAL RIDGE — A consulting firm will stay on at the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District during the transition to a new chief engineer, who begins Oct. 1, according to a member of the board overseeing the water treatment plant.

“We don’t want to pull the plug on MS Consultants just yet, we want to have some overlap with the new engineer. Just how much overlap, we haven’t decided but MS Consultants is very much in favor of working with us to make a smooth transition,” MVSD board member Richard Hale said.

The board last week hired Ramesh Kashinkunti on a six-year contract for $128,500, Hale said.

Kashinkunti is the assistant superintendent at the Greater Cincinnati Water Works and has a Class IV water operator license and the engineer’s certificate the MVSD requires for its chief engineer, Hale said.

“We are very excited to bring him on board. This search was very difficult, not a lot of people have the required credentials and it took some time to find the right person. We are very happy with our choice and anxious to get him on board,” Hale said.

Few of the candidates had all of the required licenses, Hale said.

MS Consultants has been handling the chief engineer responsibilities at the plant since February, with former chief engineer David Tabak, an employee of the firm, at the helm.

Hale said the board wanted Kashinkunti to have a say in how much assistance and for how long the treatment plant needs from the consulting firm.

When Kashinkunti arrives, the first thing on his to-do list is probably going to be getting staffing issues and responsibilities sorted, Hale said.

The plant has some big projects in the works that Kashinkunti will have to get familiar with and lead, Hale said. The largest will be overseeing multimillion dollar repairs to the dam at Meander Reservoir, Hale said.

Repairs to the decades-old dam — which is structurally sound, according to a study — could be designed and underway in 2018 and will cost nearly $30 million.

MVSD has had trouble filing the chief engineer position since Tom Holloway retired from the position in 2014. Holloway was called back at the beginning of 2016 when the employee the plant tried to promote into the position, Anthony P. Vigorito, 41, failed numerous times to get the Class IV license.

The position of plant operations manager was created for Vigorito, but the position was eliminated this summer after Vigorito was placed on leave after he was indicted in March in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on two counts each of forgery, non-compliance with Ohio’s safe drinking water law and tampering with records.

The charges stem from accusations Vigorito falsified training records for Youngstown Water Department employees. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is free on bond.

Before MS Consultants was brought in, a plant employee filled in for a short time.

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.