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Budget Inn owner, manager arrested

Numerous code violations led to the arrest of Russellville’s Budget Inn’s owner and manager last week.

Sachindra Ram Jibhai Bhagat, the owner of Budget Inn on Highway 43, and Harivadanbhat Madhavbhai Patel, manager, are both charged with reckless of endangerment violation of the duty of a hotel owner and operator, as part of an inspection and compliance process that began nearly a year and a half ago.

In November 2014, fire marshal Justin Green found numerous fire safety code violations at the Budget Inn on Highway 43 in Russellville. Although at first many of the issues were brought up to code, improvements did not continue, and in October 2015, complaints had made their way to the state fire marshals office.

“If they get complaints down there, they have to come look at it,” Green said. And when Green accompanied the state fire marshal’s office to the inn, he found conditions that had deteriorated. When he returned with the state fire marshal’s office in April, six months later, things had gone from bad to worse.

“(There were) numerous smoke detectors that were not working – not hooked up, laying on the counter, batteries detached, bare wiring,” Green said. Huge piles of clothing, representing a fire hazard, towered in some rooms, where guests had exceeded the permitted length of time of occupancy – 30 days. Green and state fire marshal Ed Paulk also found griddles and hot plates in occupants’ rooms, neither of which are permitted to be used under the fire code.

That’s when Paulk issued arrest warrants for Bhagat and Patel. Green said the two were not charged for each count of violation but only as a blanket charge.

Both bonded out of the Franklin County Jail the next day. Green said he is currently working with Bhagat, the state fire marshal’s office and an architect to bring the Budget Inn back into compliance so Bhagat – who closed the inn voluntarily – can reopen.

“My job is to make sure when anybody comes in to stay at any hotel or motel in Russellville, they feel safe – that they know this place is up to fire code, and if there is a fire, they will be alerted,” Green said. “That what the biggest part of my job is – to make sure people are safe when they go and spend their money in the city of Russellville.”

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