The FBI is looking into corruption allegations against West Fork city officials, as well as issues concerning waste being dumped into the White River from the city’s wastewater treatment facility.
“Complaints started coming to our office in spring of this year, and for several weeks we kept receiving additional information about what was going on down there,” Deputy Prosecutor Denis Dean said.
He said concerned citizens contacted his office about sewage leaking from the water treatment facility into the White River, as well as corruption at City Hall.
“The allegations cover both possible violations of state law, possible violations of federal law,” Dean said, “So that’s why you can have an agency, a federal agency like the FBI, look at it as opposed to the Arkansas State Police or a local law enforcement organization.”
An anonymous letter sent to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel by a West Fork citizen details claims that city officials intimidate employees and have covered up problems with the sewage plant.
West Fork Utilities Superintendent Butch Bartholomew said the issue with the 40-year-old plant has been temporarily fixed, after it became public in April that waste was being dumped into the White River.
“We had an overflow problem at our waste water treatment that has constantly gotten worse, since the time these were identified but we’ve added additional pumps,” Bartholomew said.
Mayor Charlie Rossetti said in a statement that the city stopped the runoff into the White River in April when it was brought to their attention.
“We’ve had no other overflows, and we’ve had some reported but they are bogus reports, and we’ve looked into those and everything is good to go,” Bartholomew said.
Bartholomew said they have worked closely with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality as well as the health department to solve the issue. He said the plant is clear of violations.
“We’re just as concerned about this, even more than anyone and we certainly want to get a permanent solution to it with this pipeline to Fayetteville that’s so badly needed installed,” Bartholomew said.
City officials said they are working on getting a pipeline built to connect to Fayetteville’s drinking water supply for the city of West Fork to use. Bartholomew said they don’t have a timeline as to when construction of the pipeline will start, but he said the city was submitting an updated plan sometime in June.
The Washington County Prosecutor’s Office staff urges people with concerns or additional information on the waste water treatment facility or alleged corruption in West Fork to contact their office or the FBI.