Things got a little heated at the June 11 Brookneal Town Council meeting as members discussed the best course of action to take regarding the temporary closing to the public of the town reservoir.
One month ago on May 18, a gun was pulled on town employee Ryan Deitterick when he was running a check on the water in the reservoir. He is a state certified water plant operator and in charge of much of the day to day work done on the water.
Deitterick left the reservoir and called Public Works Director Mike Crews to report the incident. He went to the water plant to get a lock to put on the gate to lock the suspects inside until police could get there, but they were gone when he got back to the reservoir.
At that time, Crews closed the reservoir to the public until further notice. The reservoir is a place where a number of people in the area love to go fishing. For now, they have to go somewhere else.
At the meeting council member Benny David demanded answers about why the closing has gone on for a month with no definite end in sight. He made a motion to vote on reopening the reservoir immediately that was seconded by council member Cynthia Johnson.
Crews emphasized that ensuring the safety of town employees comes first and protecting the water quality runs a close second since it is treated for use in day to day operations to provide water for the town.
An investigation into who pulled the gun is ongoing with a few leads coming in to the police department. Deiterick was too “terrified” to provide many details about the men who were apparently partying while fishing.
After a great deal of heated discussion, it was agreed that council members will meet on June 20 to discuss the matter further and decide what steps must be taken to make the reservoir safer so it can be reopened.
Discussions so far include adding better lighting and installing cameras. Changing the hours it’s open to the public will be discussed since Deitterick often goes to the reservoir after dark to work on the water.
Creating a protocol for town employees to have when problem situations occur will also be considered.
David agreed to withdraw the motion, but wants the matter resolved by next month.
Earlier in the meeting during the public comment time, Halifax County Supervisor J. T. Davis addressed council to ask them to reopen the reservoir in a timely manner and “not punish the many for the misdeeds of a few.”
He pointed out that on a personal note, he had bought a boat especially for fishing at the reservoir. Davis said he would be glad to pay a fee to fish there to offset costs that will be arising from adding new safety measures.
This is the second unpleasant incident Brookneal has suffered this month. The Brookneal Ballpark was vandalized June 4-5 when someone knocked down fencing in the middle field.