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Sandy Journal

Sandy public utilities director placed on paid administrative leave amid investigation

Feb 20, 2019 06:55PM ● By Justin Adams

Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn and public utilities Director Tom Ward announce that Ward will be taking a paid administrative leave. (Justin Adams/The City Journals)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn announced that Tom Ward, the city’s public utilities director will be placed on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation into the contamination of Sandy’s water supply and the city’s handling of the situation.

“It’s important that we allow the fact-gathering process to play out and the best way to do that is through an independent investigation. Tom will be put on paid administrative leave until we get a better understanding of exactly what happened,” said Bradburn during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Ward said that he will be stepping away because the “distraction of the media” is hampering his ability to direct the department.

“I have the utmost trust in the mayor and the city staff will continue to provide excellent service to Sandy residents,” said Ward.

The decision comes after more than a week of confusion for Sandy residents as an initial report of a fluoride leak impacting about 50 homes was expanded to include lead and copper contamination affecting over two thousand homes. Controversy also surrounded the city’s effort to communicate the situation to its residents.

On Tuesday night, the city council unanimously voted to create an independent investigative commission to determine what went wrong, both with the city water system and the city’s response.

“I think both the administration and the city council are taking this very seriously,” said Maren Barker, a Sandy city councilor who attended Wednesday’s press conference. “We voted to move forward with an investigation last night. This is the administration’s step. We support fact-finding and going through due process.”

Jodi Monaco, a Sandy resident who lives in the area impacted by the contamination was the first citizen to raise an alarm about the city’s handling of the crisis during last week’s city council meeting. She attended the press conference and told the Sandy Journal she thought the decision to place Ward on administrative leave was a good first step.

“This was initially treated as if it was resolved two days after the event. This issue has continued to unfold into a much bigger problem than anyone ever thought. I think we need to show the city of Sandy and its residents that nothing is being hidden,” she said.