Water district board gets schooled by fifth graders

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It was an over-capacity crowd that filled the meeting room at the Virgin Valley Water District Tuesday night as Virgin Valley Elementary teacher, Ian Stratton, and his fifth grade class attended to show the water board how Mesquite can benefit from conservation efforts and how the area could go about with that conservation.

Four groups of Stratton’s students presented their models, all of which were tied together. Many of the ideas and methods seemed to be quite similar to what the board had paid thousands of dollars to outside firms for similar results. “Hopefully some of these presentations can spur some ideas of other directions we can go in for the future of Mesquite,” said Stratton.

Board member Kraig Hafen had initially visited the class in November and saw their presentations then, asking them to come to a future meeting and show the water district what they have learned. “I appreciate the fifth grade class that’s here this evening… I wish the older residents of Mesquite could reason like you do. You’ve done a tremendous job.”

VVES Principal Cathy Davis was also in attendance, stating that “these were the ones that had done the best job with their presentations, but I think our future is in good hands.”

Before their presentations, however, the first session of public comment presented a surprising statement by future VVWD board member, Robert “Bubba” Smith, who commented that the proposed rate increases seemed rushed and would cripple the businesses in the community. Smith left immediately afterwards, citing illness issues and the board responded accordingly.

During the Board Comment portion of the meeting, Kraig Hafen addressed Smith’s comment, even though he wasn’t present. “That’s not what this board has done,” said Hafen. “This has been ongoing for over a year, and it’s not going to be increased until Mr. Smith and the others come in and have the opportunity to do that… those that have been elected will be here to impose whatever they want to impose.”

After the students’ presentations, it was back to business as usual with the rest of the board’s agenda, and a much emptier room.

The VVWD board members reviewed the presentation from Franson Civil Engineers from the previous meeting, regarding possible strategies for building a redundancy line coming from the tanks in Lincoln County over to the Pulte/Del Webb area and Sun City. While the action on this item was not to set anything in stone as to how this task would be completed, Water District General Manager Kevin Brown chose to recommend that the board explore option two, which would follow the Lincoln County Line to the tank location and would have adequate water pressure needed to serve the area. The board chose to approve the recommendation, which allowed staff to proceed with talks and research on the costs and possibilities for the project.

The final item for the night was the annual review of General Manager Kevin Brown, who flew through with flying colors. Initially, Water Board President Ted Miller stated that he was very pleased with Brown’s work and he “has done a wonderful job addressing all of the headaches that he inherited…I would recommend that we give him a raise this coming year at least whatever we’re going to give the employees, 3% or whatever, for cost of living.” After further discussion from the other board members and public attendees, the motion passed that the water district would retain Brown’s services as General Manager for at least the next year. Board member Rich Bowler also added that the district should consider giving Brown a raise when they work on the future budget, if there are monies available to do so.

At the end of the meeting, it was determined by staff that there were no future agenda items scheduled for December, so there is a high possibility that the scheduled meeting for December 16 would be cancelled, making the next board meeting in January 2015.

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