Longtime South Deerfield Water Supply District superintendent not ready to retire

  • The South Deerfield Water Supply District building on Sunderland Road, off Route 116. STAFF PHOTO/JOSHUA SOLOMON

Staff Writer
Published: 10/13/2018 12:35:36 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — A new superintendent has been hired, but it remains to be seen when, if at all, longtime leader of the water district Roger Sadowski will walk away. 

Tensions arose between Sadoski and the South Deerfield Water Supply District Board of Commissioners this week over that question. Sadoski denied claims he was trying to lock out the district from turning over the reins to its new hire, and said commissioners could fire him if they wished. 

Hanging over the back-and-forth conversation is an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, which issued a subpoena for documents to the water district in May. The specific contents of the subpoena are still not public, despite multiple requests to the Attorney General’s Office.

Absent from the discussion at the meeting was the newly hired superintendent, Andrew Dunn, who comes to the position after being the head of Northampton’s Water Division. The expectation from the commissioners was he was hired to specifically take over the district from Sadoski, who has indicated for years he has wanted to retire.

When directly asked by Board Chairman David Wells what his retirement date would be, Sadowski demurred.

“A few things popped up,” he said, listing issues including a recent Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Sanitary Survey and a manganese dilemma that continues to puzzle the district and DEP.

Commissioner Gary Stokarski pressed Sadoski on giving them a deadline, saying the board is trying to “put ourselves in a position to redevelop the department.”

Sadoski urged the commissioners to speak about the transition with Dunn, but then reminded them, “It’s ultimately your decision — not his.”

On Sept. 6, Sadoski told the board that he was going to retire in 30 days, but Sadoski said that was to “prod you guys.” He said he wanted the board to move along with hiring a new superintendent.

With the dialogue between the board and Sadoski heating up, and no deadline for him to leave materializing out of the conversation, Stokarski continued to push that he wanted to “complete this transition.”

“You were talking about us dragging our feet. I think you’re dragging your feet,” Stokarski said. “At some point this transition has to take place.”

Sadoski said it takes a while to learn what’s needed to run the district.

“If I walked out the door tomorrow, you don’t know how this place will be,” Sadoski said.

“How long will it take?” Wells said.

“I don’t know,” Sadoski said. “I guess you guys could fire me if you want.”

“You could be here another year?” Wells said.

“I don’t want to,” Sadoski said.

Also during the meeting, Sadoski said he had hurt his back while shoveling on the job, but didn’t ask the board for any time off or state whether he needed medical attention.

Another person was shoveling, but Sadoski said there is an “art to shoveling” and it was getting late. “So I jumped in the hole and did it myself.” 

“I screwed up my back and it’s been killing me ever since,” he said.

A special meeting will be held at the district’s office Oct. 15 to discuss the hiring of another employee to assist the superintendent. Dunn is expected to be at the meeting.

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