Tom Weeks Named To Pine-Strawberry Water Board

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Tom Weeks, a 30-year resident of the Rim Country and one of the area's most respected businessmen, has been chosen to serve on the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District board.

He was named to the board to replace Barbara Hall who resigned May 1 after alleging improprieties by the board in its hiring of attorney John Gliege

Weeks was selected during a June 5 board meeting held in the Pine School gymnasium.

Also at the meeting, the board tapped Ron Calderon to replace Hall as chairperson of the elections committee, okayed a contract for consulting services with a Phoenix firm to appraise the assets of the Pine Water Company, approved Curtis Chaney's request to transfer parcels of land from the PSWID to the Pine Water Association Domestic Water Improvement District and moved $100,000 in surplus district funds to a reserve account.

In selecting a replacement for Hall, the board received letters of interest, or resumes, from three men -- Sam Schwalm, Ron Sigars and Weeks.

All three were asked to speak openly to the board and to the about 50 persons in the audience.

From the onset of Schwalm's address, it was obvious his accusatory comments weren't being received well by the six board members present.

Sparring with the board in a monotone voice, Schwalm spoke of the members becoming "good stewards of money" and operating more under a policy of "full disclosure."

He also loosely used the terms "conflict of interest" and "unethical" apparently referencing Hall's resignation over the hiring of Gliege.

Schwalm has been a vocal critic of PSWID purchasing the Pine and Strawberry water companies, a policy the current board advocates.

Sigars identified himself as a health care consultant who was "very familiar with the water problems" and "would bring a new perspective."

But in the final voting it was Weeks, the owner of Uncle Tom's Kwik Stop in Pine, who the board members decided on.

Weeks, long active in community affairs, told the board he had an extensive history in water management dating back to his former workplaces in Yuma and Colorado.

In selecting the engineering consulting firm of Coe and Van Loo LLC of Phoenix to appraise the values of Pine and Strawberry Water Company assets, the board took another step toward the possible purchase of the two privately owned water providers.

With more information about the assets, the board can possibly strike a deal with Brooke Utilities President Robert Hardcastle. Both the Pine and Strawberry water companies are subsidiaries of Brooke Utilities.

However, some in the audience were skeptical Brooke will ever sell the two companies to PSWID.

"What happens if Hardcastle doesn't accept (a purchase deal)," an audience member asked.

Gliege answered, saying the next step would probably be for the district board to file a condemnation action in Superior Court and hope to acquire the two companies through the judiciary system.

The board will meet again on June 19.

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