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Is Monticello Wal-Mart the worst?

By Fritz Mayer
June 13, 2012

When it became known that the Wal-Mart located on Anawana Lake Road in Kiamesha Lake had, on June 8, failed its fifth inspection since September of 2011, Sullivan County Manager David Fanslau become involved and wrote a letter to an executive at Wal-Mart Realty Management, urging that someone with the appropriate authority immediately take action to remedy the situation.

The situation involves an apparent rodent infestation, with multiple reports issued by the NY Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) detailing the severity of the problem. An inspection report issued in April found numerous mouse droppings in the store; one entry read, “Over 1,000 fresh-appearing mouse droppings are present on floor between back of snack/chip display and back of egg and juice cooler.” Several mouse carcasses were also discovered.

And mice weren’t the only animals in the store that shouldn’t have been there. An earlier report noted that there was a bird perched above the deli/produce area. It said, “Bird droppings were noted on bread display below placard used for roosting and on grape and meat display cases.”

Also, there were various violations that were not connected to mice, birds or other animals. There is a hearing scheduled for June 13 to determine whether some areas of the store will be ordered to close. DAM spokesperson Jessica Ziehm said that the store may be compelled to close its deli, bakery and meat-handling areas. But she has been quoted elsewhere as suggesting that the entire operation may be forced to shut down.

In his letter, Fanslau wrote, “Sullivan County is at the beginning of the summer tourism season, and the negative news on the very serious conditions cited at the subject store will have broad collateral damage on the county’s tourism industry. However, the county is equally concerned with the reported violations and their impact on the employees that are working in these conditions and the public that patronize this facility.

“A closure of this facility will certainly have a negative impact upon Sullivan County’s sales tax revenues, as well as the harm that may be irreversible by having our public make their retail purchases outside of Sullivan County.”
Asked if it were common in New York State to have a Wal-Mart store repeatedly fail inspections with so many violations, Ziehm said, “I would say the situation is unique.”