It takes a village.

Hi Everyone,

This has been one of those weeks that Bradfordians will not forget for a long time. I really wanted to share some of the outpouring of help that we received this week. For those that don’t know this, besides being the Executive Director of the Chamber, I am also the Chairman of the Bradford City Water Authority. Also, if you aren’t from Bradford, we had a 24″ water main break on Monday afternoon that is the main artery into our town, and by Tuesday 18,000 people were without water. To make matters worse, the repair had to be done in below zero weather, and we had to go through two feet of cement. The break was on Campus Drive near the entrance of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

So let’s start with the Bradford City Water Department crew. They are my heroes, and they truly went above and beyond for their job, standing in water with -20 degree weather all night long. We are so fortunate to have them on our team, and as Kim Benjamin texted me on Tuesday morning, “There is nobody I would rather see tackling this job than the crew I have.” Kim, I agree! I also have to commend Kim for his dedication and for staying up 36 hours before finally getting some rest. I also want to thank our Board of Directors, Tom Arrowsmith, Bob Douglas, Terry Lopus and Richard Luther for being in the office to support Kim!

As for UPB, they were great! They provided shelter for our men, food, water and coffee, and any equipment that we needed was available to us. Two male students went to Tim Horton’s and bought 40 cups of coffee for the men. The next morning workers from the Bradford Sanitary Department came in to relieve our men so they could get some rest. American Refining Group provided a crane and operator to help with getting the damaged pipe out of the ground. Cummins Construction helped with getting the hole filled back in. Verizon offered their warming tents to our men. Rob Huber came out with gloves for the men, and the next day a woman with her daughter brought more gloves.

Mayor Riel contacted Governor Wolf, and within minutes Governor Wolf called the Mayor and said they would have people in Bradford in the next few hours, and they arrived that same day from his office and FEMA. Police Chief Chris Lucco took over as head of the Command Center along with Fire Chief Richard Zmuda. All the local fire departments helped with getting bottled water to our residents. Bruce Manning and his staff from McKean County Emergency Management came and stayed at the command center and have been a big help. I should also mention that when Chief Lucco was finally able to go home, and everyone on his street had water, he found out his service line was frozen. Mayor Riel and City Administrator Teri Cannon also have been at the Command Center over these past five days, and have made sure that we had everything that we need. In our office Roger Pais, Katie Vecellio and Troy Coppella have taken all the calls, and made sure that someone answered those calls. I also want to thank all the supervisors from Lewis Run, Bradford Township and Foster Township for their help!

FEMA helped with getting water and water tanks to Bradford, and they are still at our Command Center. Both the Olean and Bradford Walmart provided tractor trailers of water to our residents, and many more businesses, organizations, agencies, and churches have contributed as well with donating water as well as distributing it. Kudos to all of these great people.

We are making progress, and hopefully by Monday we will be back to full capacity. Then we will start testing the water so that we can lift the boil water order.

I could go on and on with what has happened over the past five days, and with what I have written. I know I haven’t come close to mentioning everyone that helped us, but once again Bradford people stepped up and took care of each other.

I am so proud to be a member of this community, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!

See you next Friday!



  1. The People of Bradford are the true heroes and heroines as a result of this disaster, and are to be commended for their efforts, whether large or small. Small town life has its drawbacks, but when a situation like this happens, the best comes out in everyone. Well done!

  2. As your series began on leadership, it is surreal that you have shared a story that is so REAL with leaders at every level – beginning with authorities to seasoned workers and the citizens who bring necessities. Outstanding post, Ron! Thank you for all that you do and keeping our community so thoroughly informed.

    • Although I don’t want to ever see this happen again, it has been another week of showing the strength and leadership of our community. “I love Bradford”

  3. Although I live in Limestone and was unaffected by the situation I have always felt a part of the Bradford community. I would just like to offer a hearty congratulations to all the wonderful people of Bradford for a job well done in the face of such adversity. Both the people who worked tirelessly to repair the water line and to those people who volunteered their time and effort as well as the citizens of Bradford who persevered through an incredibly difficult situation. Well done!

  4. Kim Benjamin and his crew are just one of Bradford’s hidden assets. To have someone of his knowledge and ability make a terrible situation bearable for the whole Tuna Valley shows that we are very lucky to live here . Right from the beginning he held continuous Updates for officials from the surrounding communities and businesses to let us know what was happening and what to expect. All the problems have not been corrected yet, we still have residents with frozen service lines and other problems. But to be able to call the Water Authority office and have Roger or one of the staff be pleasant and courteous to answer your questions after they have been working non-stop all week is such a tribute to Kim and the whole crew. Thank you for a job well done!

    • Gayle, thank you for the comments, and I agree, Kim is a great leader, and he exemplifies all things that I write in my blog about leadership. Thank you for your and all your workers for their help in the crisis. Bradford Proud!!!

  5. Stacey Nelson

    March 1, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    I also feel that a huge thanks is well needed for the Port Alleghany area and The Kane area. What a beautiful gesture from their student body. I am proud to be born and raised in our wonderful community. We have all come together and truly took care of each other. I love this area. Thanks to everyone for reminding us exactly what we are BRADFORD.

    • Stacey, I couldn’t agree more, we have thanked them in our Facebook page, and posted the picture of the bus bringing in the water. We had help from all over the county, and we do truly appreciate everyone’s help. Thanks

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