EPID board discusses complaint, elects officers

Cal Lanfear was reelected to the Board of Directors of the Eagle Point Irrigation District, taking the oath of office at the annual meeting on January 31.  
Stan Deupree retained his position as President of the organization and Gary Bedell was retained as Vice President of the District.  Likewise, the Board voted to retain Hazel Ellefson as manager and Secretary of the District, and Bill Mansfield will remain as attorney for the District.

A complaint by someone living within the District, but not a district
patron, was filed to the state Ethics Commission, and the commission
found on January 18 that an investigation should be held.  The
complaint concerned ditch rider Mark Hueners and an alleged improper
use of District equipment.  According to Manager Ellefson, Hueners had
permission to use the company truck to take his wife to dinner one
occasion, and have his brother ride with him on another.             
During the Jan 31 meeting, President Deupree
said that Hueners did not act of his own accord, but first obtained
permission from the manager.  He also said "we stand behind our
employees, and believe we have done nothing wrong.  If the Ethics
Commission finds we are wrong, we will change our practices.  The
District has nothing to hide."  He went on to say that ditch riders
take pickups home during the seven-month season to prevent having to
drive back to the shop when a call comes in at other than normal
working hours.  Deupree also said that he thought the complainant had
some personal grudge against the ditch rider.
Ellefson said
"Ditch Riders ‘give up’ their lives during the seven-month season.  All
Hueners asked for was the time to take his wife to dinner on their
anniversary.  He could have left the truck home, but a call could have
come during dinner, then he would have had to take his wife home, then
come to the shop to get the truck, then go out on the call."  She said
that service to the patrons is critical and District personnel must be
ready to answer calls as soon as possible.
Patron Jim
Roberts attended the meeting to support Hueners and the District in the
complaint.  Roberts said "He (Hueners) is a good employee and has shown
himself to be conscientious in all matters."  He added that his pickup
is his office because all he needs to do his job is there.   "This
company (District) has been run so efficiently I can’t believe someone
would say anything like this," he added.
Ellefson confirmed
that many patrons have called in to assure the District that Hueners is
doing a good job.  She also said that the complainant said tax dollars
were involved, but the District operates from O & M funds, not
taxpayer dollars.
The ethics committee found evidence that
requires investigation and will conclude by April 25.  At that time
they will make known their findings and both sides will have
opportunity to respond to the findings.
Attorney Bill
Mansfield said that he would donate time to put together a petition for
patrons, allowing them to make comments about Hueners good work
habits.  Mansfield also solicited letters from patrons to be mailed to
the District office with their comments about the situation.
Lake is reported to be low for this time of year, but Ellefson said
that is probably a good sign, given the amount of snow pack in the
mountains.  Rain at this time goes to the ocean, snowbank stays longer
and will fill the lake later in the year.  The District is also meeting
with Medford Water commission, with the hopes that the Dam at the Lake
can be altered to allow more storage.  The latest information is that a
device can possibly be added to the spillway area that will increase
lake storage without altering the structure in any way.
storms have caused major damage to the main canal near Cobleigh Road. 
Hundreds of large trees have fallen in or across the canal, harming
banks, the roadbed and forcing the shutdown of the power facilities. 
Foreman Roger Ellefson and crews spent fourteen straight days removing
wood and rebuilding roads and canal banks.  Soft soil and high winds
accounted for the damage. 
Board meetings for 2008 will
remain on the same schedule as last year, with meetings on the second
Tuesday of each month beginning at 2:30 p. m. at the District Office.
 By Ralph McKechnie
For the Independent

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