Rim Water District Under Investigation

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The Rim Trail Water Improvement District Board, which is under investigation by the Gila County Attorney's Office, is once again at full strength.

The board held an outdoor meeting by the community's mailboxes Saturday morning to announce the appointment of Christine Mesler, an attorney and part-time Rim Trail resident, to the board. She replaces Ron Zymslinski, the board's former treasurer, who resigned June 6.

Meanwhile, Byron Cotney, assistant to Gila County Attorney James Hazel, confirmed that the county attorney's office is conducting an investigation into the district's practices, but he would not elaborate.

Rim Trail is a small community off Houston Mesa Road between Whispering Pines and Washington Park. While it is made up of 139 lots and some 90 homes and cabins, it has just 15 full-time residents.

The Rim Trail Domestic Water Improvement District, which was formed in 1980, is one of some 1,500 special taxing districts in Arizona that are, for the most part, considered separate entities from the counties in which they reside. The Rim Trail system draws surface water from the East Verde River and has three back-up groundwater wells, only one of which is operational.

A bitter election campaign was waged last year between Lionel Martinez, then chairman of the board, and resident Steve Emerson. Martinez won a narrow victory and then resigned from the board.

During the campaign, Emerson accused Martinez of shoddy management practices, including not submitting test samples as required. Both the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and United States Environmental Protection Agency backed the charges.

Besides Mesler, the board's current members are chairman Harry Jones and secretary Tom

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