Reader writes: SRAC story left many questions unanswered

March 28, 2014 

Story has unanswered questions

I read with interest – and some alarm – the story about the pool heaters at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center. I think the taxpayers of Smithfield and Johnston County need the rest of the story.

As a very young journalism student, I was taught that a news story should answer six questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. This story answered only a couple of those questions.

According to the story, the contractor “improperly installed residential instead of commercial heaters for the pools.” That answers one of the questions: Why are they breaking down?

The first question that comes to mind is whether the contract specified commercial heaters, as it should have. If so, who signed off on the completion of the project with the less expensive heaters and why? If the contract didn’t specify commercial heaters, why not? How did this get by when the job was finished? Who is responsible? When did they find out about the substitution? Why did they not stop payment until the correct heaters were installed? Who signed off on the completion?

Why isn’t the contractor who improperly substituted less expensive heaters not being held responsible and paying at least a third of the cost of the replacements? (I’d require him to do at least half if not all of the cost.) Why are the taxpayers of Smithfield and Johnston County footing the entire bill? What safeguards are in place now to prevent this kind of thing from happening again, not only on the heaters but also on other contracts the town is entering into?

Maybe the Herald could get us the answers to these questions. Another story is needed.

Lynn Johnson


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