VVWD approves new well on Pioneer Blvd

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The board of directors of the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) approved a new well location, a new insurance company and tabled until next meeting a discussion of a controversial memo by director Sandra Ramaker. Director Bubba Smith was absent at the June 7 meeting.

Well 27, which is located north of the Bank of Nevada building on Pioneer Blvd. “failed over two years ago,” according to district manager Kevin Brown. An unsuccessful attempt was made to repair the well, and staff began negotiations with the property owner, Urban Land of Nevada, to relocate the well to a small triangle of land along Pioneer Boulevard to the west of the bank.

Under the agreement negotiated by staff, no money will change hands but the district will clear and cap the old well site and provide fill dirt to the company’s site at the new Rising Star sports resort. Director Barbara Ellestad urged the staff to work closely with the Mesquite Vista HOA to ensure they were aware of the project.

The board unanimously approved the agreement.

An ongoing disagreement with the Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool (Pool Pact) was ended with the unanimous vote of the board to cancel the local government insurance pool and purchase a policy from Travelers Insurance. The district has been in a long-standing disagreement with Pool Pact for refusing to cover district losses incurred by former staff and consultants involved in the transfer of water shares.

Director Ramaker asked staff if the new insurer would have covered the losses if a similar situation occurred. District attorney Bo Bingham responded, “We are in a better position in a couple of ways. Pool Pact’s policy says that they can’t be sued for anything because they are not an insurance company.” Bingham added that while Pool Pact isn’t subject to the Nevada Insurance Division, Travelers is “so at least there is a clear path of appeal if they don’t accept a claim.”

Director Rich Bowler urged approval of the change “I was ready to change insurance companies last December,” to which director Ellestad added “I was ready to change two years ago.” The board unanimously approved the policy with Travelers.

The final agenda issue was a request by Bowler to discuss the list of objections that Ramaker asked to be added to the record after the 4 to 1 vote to approve the budget at the May meeting. Ramaker asked the board to table the request until the June 21 meeting until there “would be a full board present.” Ramaker also objected to the item being on the agenda as the letter from Bowler requesting the agenda item was not submitted 10 days in advance as is required by board policy.

Bowler responded “I requested this to be put on but I guess Sandra is correct our policy does state that back up material is supposed to be submitted 10 days in advance.” Bowler stated he “definitely want to be consistent with our policies but I wanted not to be treated any differently than anyone else.” Bowler referred to the presentation by director Bubba Smith at the last meeting, “We were handed stuff at the meeting and no body wanted to bring that to light.” Bowler agreed however, that he was willing to table it to another meeting to comply with board policy.

In public comment, Mesquite residents Gary Elgort and Dave Ballweg both objected to tabling the discussion. Elgort told the board “I was looking through the minutes and I saw the agenda item and I thought there might be more puppets tonight.” Elgort was referring to the hand puppet director Smith used in his presentation in May. Elgort criticized Ramaker for submitting her objections to the budget “after the fact.” Doing so, Elgort claimed, removed his ability as a citizen to comment on Ramaker’s objections to the budget.

Ballweg said “The way it was presented denied me a public comment.” Ballweg told the board that Ramaker’s written objections should have been subject to the board 10-day policy to give the public an opportunity to review and discuss them.

The board then voted 3 to 1 to approve Ramaker’s motion to delay the discussion until the June 21 board meeting. Chair Nephi Julien voted no.

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