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Clamps put on DPW

Possible COVID-19 case impacts city streets department

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward The Dunkirk Streets Department reportedly closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

It appears the Dunkirk streets department is in limbo and might be closed until next week.

According to a number of city officials, an employee within the department did not follow proper quarantine procedures with regard to COVID-19 and had contact with fellow workers. That employee also is being tested for COVID-19. As a result, the department is currently on shutdown.

Randy Woodbury, director of Public Works, told the OBSERVER on Wednesday the city is doing precautionary testing for those employees and working on a way to keep garbage collection going right now.

“We’re putting a plan in place to get other districts to help out,” Woodbury said. “We are receiving guidance from Christine Schuyler (Chautauqua County public health director) and getting people tested. We are following all mandated protocols.”

Personnel Director Roger Hayden would not comment specifically on the matter when reached. He did say that necessary precautions have been taken.

Callers to the OBSERVER also noted the Lucas Street location was closed as of this afternoon. The sign at the site said it would be closed “until further notice.”

“We cannot release any information on COVID-19 cases other than what is released in our daily update and on the map of cases per fire battalion,” Schuyler said in regard to the Dunkirk incident.

First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr. also expressed his concern over the situation. “This person’s actions, I believe, are in direct violation of our governor’s executive orders and put the safety of everyone they work with and their families at risk of an illness that in extreme cases can be fatal,” said Williams, who is head of the council’s Department of Public Works Committee. “I spoke with Dennis Brooks, administrator of the Chautauqua County Worker’s Comp, about this and he suggested that everyone affected fill out an accident report.

“As a father of a DPW streets employee, it would make me happy if this employee never worked another day for the city of Dunkirk. Because of his careless and reckless behavior, our family is now at risk. As a council member however, I understand the need to follow contractual discipline procedure and state and federal laws.”

Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas did not return calls to this newspaper for comment.

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