Although the Nov. 17 Virgin Valley Water District Meeting was short to begin with, it became even shorter as the board called their meeting that night. With Board President out of town, VVWD Board Vice President Barbara Ellestad stood in to delegate the meeting.
Item six on the agenda, to address the overdue interest payment owed by John Lonetti for his previous late payment of $4.64 million made in April 2015 that was originally due in October 2014. Instead of having to discuss potential actions to be taken to collect the overdue interest payment, Lonetti had paid the bill in full, all $88,805.22, to the district on Nov. 16, 2015. The item was therefore removed from the agenda.
In other business, board member Sandra Ramaker was under fire once more as Ellestad addressed Ramaker’s previous complaints about a September 8, 2015 meeting with Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison when issues of water were briefly discussed. Ellestad began with walking through the transcript of the conversation in question and then played the actual audio snippets to the board, staff and attending audience.
“I believe my comment to the Lt. Governor was validated by the extensive discussion at the last Board meeting when it was determined that the Water District does not have ‘an issue with water,’” stated Ellestad. “The comment I made that included the word ‘water’ was based on my years as a news reporter and not as a member of the Water District Board of Directors. Based on my knowledge as a media member it was a legitimate statement and I did not want the Lt. Governor of our State to take away false information.” Ellestad also requested that the full comments be included in the minutes for the Nov. 17 meeting.
When it was time for Ramaker to respond to Ellestad’s presentation, she stated that she had filed an ethics complaint and that the office tried to deliver to Ellestad on Nov. 16 but she was out of town. Ramaker stated that according to the response she received, Ellestad would have until Nov. 30 to respond and they would make a final decision by Dec. 16, and their decision would be final. As of Wednesday morning, Ellestad had not received said letter.
“My complaint had nothing to do with thoughts of anyone else,” said Ramaker. “I do not have a personal issue with you, Barbara, I do have an issue with I believe that there is, at the very least, a conflict of interest, if not an ethics violation with you being the editor of the newspaper and serving on the water board. As a rule, people who are news related do not serve political offices because of the conflicts of interest.”
Ramaker continued to take fire as board member Rich Bowler took her to task with statements she made at the Oct. 20 VVWD meeting where she claimed that the board had violated an NRS statute and that the VVWD was not cooperative with the USGS.
“I read the minutes,” stated Bowler, “and I have a problem with that’s in them… Sandra had some concerns that she had provided an email that actually made some accusations. The claims that we violated NRS and that we do not cooperate with the USGS are the two issues I have a problem with… I brought those out in the meeting but I don’t see any kind of resolution to them… We need to address that now.”
According to those minutes:
“Rich began to review the backup information provided by Sandra. Rich said that Sandra’s information was incorrect in stating that only four springs were under the District’s jurisdiction. Barbara asked Sandra if she authored her backup material and Sandra stated that it was a joint effort with Mike McGreer. Rich further questioned portions of Sandra’s backup material asking when the District failed to cooperate with the USGS on hydrology studies and Sandra stated that this was part of the information given to her to bring forward to the board. Kevin stated that since he has been here the District has not been asked to work with the USGS.”
Bowler stated that Ramaker needed to make a public retraction to her statements so that it could be attached to the minutes and that there would be no misunderstandings should anyone in the future read the minutes and take away an opinion that the VVWD was in the wrong. Ramaker asked that she be able to “go home and pull out that actual data that I brought.” Because of this, the item will be placed on the Dec. 15 VVWD meeting to address and resolve in full. To view the minutes in full from the Oct. 20 meeting, they can be found in the backup materials from the Nov. 17 meeting on the Water District’s website, www.vvh2o.com. (Click Here for a direct link)
In final business, the board approved an adjustment to $5,100 in the waterline replacement project on East First South Street with Legacy Construction. Due to the fact that many of the homes in that area of town are not as-builts, or more of a pre-city code era, the company is finding that there are added costs in restructuring the water lines in preparation for Noor Estates going in. The original contract, which was awarded on Oct. 20 for $23,000 was approved for the amended version of $28,100 unanimously, 4-0.
The next meeting will be held in the VVWD conference room, 500 Riverside Road, at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.