More Honesty, Less Hearsay

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Editor:

As a recalled member of the past Pine/Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) board, I was surprised at Ray Pugel’s accusations in his “false information” letter in the Payson Roundup, Dec. 2. He accused Sam Schwalm of spreading “fear and false information to citizens in the PSWID.” Sorry, Ray, but I know that Sam checks his publications for accuracy. And when a mistake is made, he reports that also. All water users in the district should visit his excellent Web site for honest reporting of PSWID issues (http://www.waterforpinestrawberry.com/).

Ray Pugel accused some recalled board members of secreting BUI (Brooke Utilities, Inc.) documents from other board members and the public. This is the actual story by date:

Highland Water Resources Consulting (HWRC) explained its hydrologic analysis of K2 Site to PSWID on June 15, 2006. (2) BUI employed three hydrogeologists for “peer review” of (1) and sent the proprietary reports (Ray’s “secreted documents”) to the PSWID K2 Project negotiating team on Nov. 10, 2006. (3)   PSWID negotiating team summarized “peer review” reports to board at Nov. 16 meeting.

PSWID board unanimously approved K2 Project Joint Well Development Agreement on May 1, 2007.

Ray Pugel claimed “blatant conflicts of interest” concerning two past members of the PSWID board. There is no proven evidence for this charge which was used to harass individuals that worked on the K2 Project. As long as Ray brought up the subject — there are some citizens who suspect the current PSWID board of “conflict of interests.” For example, the present counsel for the board offers advice on condemnation procedure (PSWID vs. BUI) when the same counsel represents another client arguing against BUI (Pine Water Company) to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).

Another example is the Gila County Board of Supervisors (District 1) consultant who has advised PSWID board members against BUI ownership of local water companies. He is now the “interim manager” appointed by PSWID for their “eventual” new water company. He is also the present manager of Portal IV Pine Creek Canyon Domestic Water Improvement District. The informed citizen might suspect some collusion here.

In regard to Ray Pugel’s call for a public forum/debate, what useful purpose would this serve? Ray claims to have “lots of information,” but how much of that would be hearsay? The so-called “independent” moderator better wear a thick suit-of-armor.

Yes, there is a “mandate” for the present board which advocates condemnation and purchase of the existing private utilities, improvement of infrastructure, and most likely purchase of and connection to the Pugel & Randall Milk Ranch Well, the total cost likely exceeding $6 million (including legal and “interim managerial” costs). It is a very costly alternative for refusing to work with the present private water utility on the recently suspended K2 Deep Well Project.         

Sam, please continue your scrutiny of all PSWID board activities. The best “public forum” is your Web site where “the other side of the story” is reported. Your careful analysis of PSWID activities will increase honesty and reduce hearsay.

Wes Suhr

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