By Stan Welch
When the Town of Pelzer decided to pull out of the joint public works agreement with West Pelzer, there was an unhappy, if not unanticipated, consequence.
West Pelzer had budgeted its public works operations to include the revenues contributed by Pelzer. When that agreement dissolved, the result was that a seventeen year veteran of the West Pelzer Public Works Department was laid off.
Michael Mahaffey, who oversaw both the upgrading of the town’s water and sewer systems, was informed Tuesday afternoon that he would be laid off as of June 15. Mahaffey started working for the town in 2001 and became the head of the Water Department in 2004.
West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders conceded that he struggled with the decision, which the council was informed of prior to Mahaffey being notified.
“Mike’s contributions to the town of West Pelzer are without question. He is one of two men in this city’s history to essentially build a water system from the ground up. Arthur Davis was the other, and he did it back in the 1940s era. Believe me, it was a much more complicated process when Michael did it.”
Mahaffey, when contacted by The Journal, said that he was unaware of that special status until Mayor Sanders pointed it out to him. “I have to say that while I understand the Mayor’s decision, I’m not too happy about it. But when I took over the water department in 2004, I set the goals of seeing a new water and sewer system built. The fact that those goals have been met gives me a certain peace of mind.”
“When I took over the department, we had a water loss of approximately fifty four per cent. That means we were paying for a lot of water that nobody was using. Now it’s down to seven to fifteen per cent. And we had tremendous I&I problems with our sewer lines. The financial costs of those situations were huge. Now, we are out from under the DHEC consent order for the first time in a long time. I feel good about that.”
He went on to say that he always wanted to retire from West Pelzer, which is his home town. “That would have been really cool. I gave this town seventeen long hard years. I missed almost every Halloween with my youngest daughter because I was working festivals for the town. Those are times I can’t get back. And then to get let go because of something another town did is pretty hard to swallow. But if the town needs my help, I will be around.”
By Stan Welch