The newly elected Virgin Valley Water District Board is sworn into official office Tuesday night. From left to right, Mary Johnson is swearing in Rich Bowler (Bunkerville), Nephi Julien (Bunkerville), Sandra Ramaker (Mesquite), Barbara Ellestad (Mesquite) and Robert “Bubba” Smith (Mesquite). Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

Tuesday’s first Virgin Valley Water District meeting marked a new start with three new members, Nephi Julien, Barbara Ellestad and Robert “Bubba” Smith, and the reelection of Sandra Ramaker and Rich Bowler.

Ramaker was selected to serve the two-year term to represent Mesquite and newcomer Nephi Julien was chosen to serve the two-year term for Bunkerville. Julien also ended up winning the seat of President of the Board.

“I want to focus on the future, not the past,” said Julien. “We’ve got some work ahead of us and hopefully we make the right decisions.”

Barbara Ellestad was voted in by her co-board members as Vice President. “I want to thank those who put their faith and trust in me to do the right thing on this side of the table,” she said. “My goal is to never forget what it’s like to be on that side (the public’s side) of the table. Any emails that come to me, I will answer, unless it is anonymous or from a fake email address.”

Mary Johnson, the Administrator for operations at the water district, was again selected as the Secretary/Treasurer for the next four years. NRS statutes state that the Secretary/Treasurer does not need to be a board member in order to hold the position.

The first item on the agenda was to decide if board members should attend the National Water Resources Association meeting in Reno at the end of January and be compensated/ paid for doing so. Ramaker opted to go, as she had attended the same conference in Las Vegas with then-president Ted Miller.

“We can’t justify all of us going when we are proposing rate increases,” said Rich Bowler. “I think that if one member attends, they can bring it back and inform the board.”

So Ramaker will attend, along with Hydrologist Aaron Bunker, and both will be paid for their travel expenses and $80 per day of the conference. The approval was passed unanimously.

Next on the agenda was a proposal to allow staff to seek out bids on repairs for Falcon Ridge Parkway, which sustained a waterline break in December. The residents in the area at the time were without water for approximately 30 minutes. Because the estimate, according to District Manager Kevin Brown, will be up to $35,000, the approval had to come to the board. If everything goes smoothly, repairs on the area could begin by the first week in February, after the bids have come back and the board has awarded a bid at their January 20 meeting. Brown stated that “We’re moving this as fast as we legally can.”

“I’d like to see this process speeded up as much as possible,” said Ellestad. “I remember how long it took to get Pioneer Boulevard fixed, and the public was not happy about that.”

The discussion for revision on the policies regarding repairs were notated and will be on a future agenda so that the board can decide how to proceed on future incidents. This project was approved to move forward.

The final item on the agenda was in regards to ongoing litigation with John Lonetti, who is to pay the water district $4.74 million from a settlement agreement last April.

Board President Nephi Julien recused himself, as Lonetti has recently become a ‘customer’ with Julien’s pest control company. To avoid any kind of supposition, Julien believed this was the best option.

Lonetti was to pay $1.5 million amount in October, after resources from a land sale was to have come through. That sale fell through, and Lonetti’s representatives have asked for some extensions to repay the monies owed to the district.

After a lengthy discussion by the board members and Water District Attorney Bo Bingham, as well as comments from the public, the board agreed to approve an extension that would give Lonetti until April to pay the settlement amount by April of 2015 as well as other fees and interest. The full agreement may be viewed on the VVWD’s website at