Beginning of a new era for the Shady Cove Water District

Every good drama has a denouement (series of events following the apex of the drama). In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar there are two full acts following the “ousting” of Caesar. It seems Shady Cove’s version of this play will have a similarly lengthy “winding up period” as was evident at Monday’s Shady Cove Water District Board of Commissioners special meeting.

Like any good drama, the meeting was also peppered with enthusiastic rounds of applause by the standing room only crowd gathered at the Edgewater Inn Conference Room.

The evening began with elections: Phillip Keith was elected president – pause for applause. Paula Trudeau was elected secretary, applause, applause. Keith Smith was elected treasurer, more applause.

With the opening scene concluded and the players acknowledged the new cast got down to business.

The consent calendar portion of the meeting was skipped as no records have yet been transferred from the “old guard” to the new. Mr. Keith met with Manager Jim Collier earlier on the 24th, but without a court order Collier was unable to hand over any records from the former Board. The court order was obtained early Monday evening so the new Board will be able to obtain the records. The matter of records was discussed in greater detail under new business.

The eager crowd collectively hushed and leaned forward as the board moved on to new business. With Caesar gone, would the “empire” be dissolved as promised?

As the crowd was soon to learn, it’s quite possible the fall of the Roman Empire took less time than it may take to dissolve the Shady Cove Water District.

If anyone thought President Keith could simply say “We hereby resign – the district is no more.” pound his gavel, call it a day and exit stage left to thunderous applause…well they were sorely disappointed.

In fact the first order of business (motions, voting & all) was the discussion of hiring an attorney for the new board. It was decided the board’s current attorney would be let go and the board would temporarily retain the services of Mr. Fernell the attorney they’ve been working with for all matters electoral.

President Keith did announce that this board had run on a platform of dissolution and that was their plan – however there’s much work to be done before that goal can be reached.

Records must be obtained, and as is the “normal course of business” per President Keith, all financial records will be audited. Later in the meeting the Board asked for community volunteers to witness all financial records reviews (note: this hinges on attorney approval). Their goal is to “keep the public informed” (the term “cover our…selves” was also used).  Former board members Bob and Dee Hawkins stopped into the meeting briefly with a box of what might have been financial records, but President Keith refused to accept them – preferring to obtain all records simultaneously, legally and with witnesses.

The board must also obtain office space (by law) and a phone. They are looking into signing a 6 month lease for local office space and during the meeting a community member offered up a pre-paid cell phone for the board’s use.

There’s also the matter of paying for all of the above. Until the financial records are obtained, the board has no monies. They pondered beginning a legal fund for attorney fees, President Keith noted they do not legally need to start one and for now, “Might have to come begging to the public for donations.” Keith also noted that prior to dissolution the board will make an effort to refund the $6.00 fees to citizens who paid them (oh yes, more applause).

Lastly on the trail to dissolution is the matter of the petition. It has been received by the county and signatures have been verified. It now will pass to the new board who will have 30 days to complete a fact-finding and prepare a plan for dissolution. Likely the board will ask for an extension on the 30 days due the delays they faced in taking office.

The next board meeting will be very soon – Monday, Aug. 31. Agenda items were discussed and decided upon and will include: A review/rewrite of the by-laws, how to’s of writing a fact-finding, a new fee schedule for public records requests (past board charged up to $400.00 for same) and details of new office space.

New business completed, the meeting moved on to public comment. Keith advised it is not legally required, but the Board wants to know the public’s opinion, thus added it to the agenda. He also asked that if the person ahead of you says essentially what you were going to say – please stay seated and joked “Or we’ll be here until 8:30 tomorrow morning.” Additionally he noted the board would not engage in question & answer items. Questions could be submitted in writing for possible address at the next meeting.

Public comment was in fact brief (long in applause, though!) and is best summed up by Tom Borgen’s comment of congratulations and “It’s been a damn long time coming.”

There was little left to be said under council comment, but Paula Trudeau did advise folks that she’d been looking into some options for getting water to all of the city’s citizens following the dissolution. The best option she researched seemed to be possible grant monies from Economic and Community Development Department. The down side: the grant is capped at 1 million & available once per 5 years to a given community. Previous research found a water system for all residents will run 12 to 16 million, but Trudeau feels the grant is jumping off money.

Act IV Scene 1 of our continuing drama closed with a 7:25 adjournment. If you wish good seats (or any seats!) for Scene 2 get thee to the Edgewater Inn early on the 31st – seats by the air conditioner go particular fast!
By Christy Pitto
For the Independent


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