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More meter checks mulled

September 13, 2000

More meter checks mulled



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Hagerstown City Councilmen J. Wallace McClure and Alfred W. Boyer said Tuesday special checks of some city water meter covers may be a good idea after one broke Sunday when a woman stepped on it.

Other council members said, however, regular checks on the condition of water meters, which are supposed to be done every three months, may be enough.

April Fanelle Keyes, who was injured when a meter cover broke as she walked on it, has said the city should check all meter covers. City police reported the meter cover on the 300 block of Jonathan Street broke because it had rusted through.

City meter readers already check the condition of the meter covers every three months, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

McClure wants to see the broken meter cover so he can see for himself how it broke. McClure also wants to see where the cover was located to see if rain water collects in that area, which could contribute to rusting.

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"Then based on what I saw I'd say maybe it is a good idea to check others throughout the city ... or maybe check other (meter) covers in that area," McClure said.

McClure said the city should at least pay Keyes medical bills.

"It wasn't her fault it caved in," McClure said.

Keyes and her 9-month-old daughter, whom Keyes was carrying when she stepped on the cover, were treated and released from Washington County Hospital for injuries sustained in the fall. Keyes is on crutches for injuries to her leg.

Boyer wants to talk with city staff about the feasibility and expense involved in checking all the water meter covers. He said maybe the city should do a "random sampling of meter covers."

"If we have one what's to say we don't have more?" Boyer asked.

Councilman William M. Breichner said it was an isolated incident and there is no need to do more than the routine checks. Breichner questioned whether the iron cover had rusted through, as was reported by police. Breichner has not seen the meter cover.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said they need to make sure the meter readers are checking the meter covers.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the routine checks should continue. Metzner said "it's a staff level issue" and not one the council should be involved in.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said she was unaware of the incident until Tuesday and had no comment on the matter. Saum-Wicklein did ask Zimmerman during a Tuesday council meeting about the broken meter cover. Zimmerman said David White, the city purchasing agent, was reviewing the incident "as he would any claim of faulty or defective city property."

The broken meter cover was on the 300 block of Jonathan Street. It broke when Keyes, 20, of Hagerstown, stepped on it Sunday evening.

Keyes' right leg went into the hole up to her hip, and her daughter fell out of her arms and rolled into the street.

The water meter cover, which was 10 inches in diameter, "was rusted through," said City Police Sgt. David Long.

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