Friday, May 15, 2009

There's a hole in the bucket dear Liza

May 13th, 2009
There’s a hole in the bucket dear Liza!
Before I get into this week’s article I need to make a correction. I said last week that the planned development was in Spink Township. Sorry for the mistake folks, I guess I had a temporary memory lapse. Brule Township gets all the credit.
Clay Rural Water held a public hearing on an expansion project on May 12th at their Wakonda office. I had a problem with how people were notified about this and talked to Greg Merrigan about it. I told Greg that if I hadn’t picked up an Elk Point paper on Saturday, I would have never known about the meeting. I put 2 and 2 together and said to myself, “Doug, this could be a problem.” Here it is, I’m a voting member of clay rural water and they are holding a public hearing to get public input on project and I don’t know about it. Why are they having a public meeting and not a meeting of the members? Why is the public involved in this?
We are not getting adequately notified, and the board could be taking action on projects we don’t want them to do, and because we don’t know about the meeting, we have no voice.
I told Greg they are getting to be like Union County. (Pun intended) I played the devil’s advocate with Greg and said this could be a serious problem for CRWS, and asked why it was a public hearing. He said that since the project was going to be funded by DENR, it was public funds and the public has a right to know how and when and why the money is going to be spent. I started to have the BIG ONE. I said “You mean to tell me that since the project is going to be funded by state funds that the public and DENR control the vote and not the members?” he said that is correct. He also said that this was discussed by the board at a previous meeting and is now brought to public’s attention. He noted that the board meeting would have been the place for the members to overrule their decision. We would take out a petition of 5% of the members and override their vote. (De’javu all over again) I asked him again if the decision by the public would override the decision of the members, and he said their comments are taken down and forwarded to DENR to make the decision. I almost had the BIG ONE again. “You mean to tell me that even if the members did not want this project it could be overridden by the state? He said yes, the funds come from the state therefore they get the say-so. Now I’m really getting to have the BIG ONE. Do you folks see where I’m heading with this? I’m not saying it is going to happen, but it very well could happen.
Let’s say that Hyperion wants CRWS to build them a water treatment facility and supply them with water. (This could happen because I think they have already formally proposed this and the board turned them down.) The board knows it doesn’t have the money for a project of this size ($30-40 Million) so they suggest Hyperion use state funds from DENR. The board would discuss this and vote on whether or not to do this. Then they have a public hearing and take input and forward this on to the state, and the state says yea or nay. If we are not aware of what is happening this could be a done deal and we wouldn’t know about it because we were not notified of the meeting. The only requirement for CRWS is to publish the meeting 10 days in advance and then proceed as normal. I told Greg I didn’t think this was adequate and that I think they need to modify their by-laws and their notification procedures for the members because not everyone takes the Vermillion or Elk Point paper. The least they should do is publish it on their website, but not everyone has a computer linked to the internet and we don’t read their website on a regular basis. He said he dropped the ball on this one; he could have and should have put it on the web. I have an email account and they could notify me by email. They could send out bulk mailing to the members, they could notify them in their monthly billing statement. (Although maybe monthly billing statements are not sent out.)They need to do some modification, because what they have now is not adequate and this is not acceptable in my mind for the members of CRWS.
The long and short of this is that all the members need to write a letter to the board of directors telling them that they need to change their procedures to adopt a method of notification that will adequately notify everyone of happenings such as a public hearing so that we are not left out in the cold. I am asking all members of CRWS to please send the board of directors a letter asking them to make changes that will adequately inform the membership of what is happening so that actions that we do not approve of are not voted on to happen without our knowledge or consent.
You know, this is getting to be a really crazy world around here. If we aren’t on our toes for every little thing that is happening that could be something for Hyperion to get a toe hold, it will happen. We need to have watchdogs out everywhere; always thinking this could be a problem that maybe we need to look into. This is no time to get caught with our pants down. No wonder I’m getting bald(er).


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