NORWICH – The Department of Environmental Conservation has charged Norwich’s Department of Public Works Assistant Superintendent George W. Carnrike, Jr. with unlawful disposal of solid waste, allegedly occurring on May 2 – a day after the City of Norwich and the Sheriff's Office cleaned-up a secluded, illegal campsite containing discarded drug paraphernalia, described by local officials as, "tent city."
The DEC's criminal investigations unit charged George Carnrike Jr., age 60, of Norwich, with one count of disposing waste at other than a permitted facility, the day after the city DPW helped clean-up an illegal campsite used for drug use.
With the city's top superintendent post open, Carnrike has been the acting Norwich DPW superintendent. George Carnrike's sister is City of Norwich Mayor Christine Carnrike.
The City of Norwich Common Council held an emergency meeting on Thursday night, ultimately placing an employee on paid administrative leave. City council members refused to confirm the identity of the individual––but Carnrike was the only person seen entering and exiting the executive session.
Christine Carnrike did not attend the meeting, neither did the city's clerk, Agnes Eaton. When Ward 3 Alderman John Deierlein member at Thursday's meeting asked if the mayor would be attending, and Ward 1 Alderman Matthew Caldwell replied, "No."
Contacted by phone Thursday, prior to the meeting, the mayor said she was aware of the charges against George Carnrike, Jr. but was unaware of the special meeting, though she added as far as she knew Thursday night's special meeting was not related to George Carnrike, Jr. being charged.
Before the meeting Thursday, the Norwich City Clerk's office also confirmed George Carnrike, Jr. was still acting superintendent and the city was still seeking a viable candidate to fill the post.
Contacted Friday morning the Norwich City Clerk's Office refused to identify who was currently running the city's DPW. When asked why the city could not identify who was running the department the clerk said they were instructed by the common council not to discuss issues relating to the DPW.
Directed by the clerk's office to contact Alderman Caldwell, Caldwell also refused to name the current head of Norwich's DPW Friday morning, or even acknowledged if the post was now vacant.
He would not comment on the action taken by the council at the Thursday night meeting except to say Christine Carnrike received prior official notification of the meeting Thursday evening.
Christine Carnrike disagreed, and said Friday morning she was not officially informed of the meeting, and would seek to have a new policy enacted at the next common council meeting requiring the mayor be informed of all meetings.
The mayor said she had not discussed her brother's case with him.
"I plan to set the record straight, I think they made a hasty decision," she said.
The next common council meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 19, at the Norwich City Court building.
The campsite, known locally as tent city, had been an ongoing concern for local officials since late 2017.
Mountain bikers stumbled upon the campsite in February, located along Greenway Trails in Norwich, and reported to officials and The Evening Sun the region was littered with garbage and drug paraphernalia.
The Norwich Police Department reported city officials had been aware of the site since fall of 2017. Police explained the site was behind the Borden Town Circle, and outside city limits...