Pine/Strawberry Board Seeks To Hire Manager

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The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board is continuing its march toward the goal of taking over the two towns’ private water companies.

The board’s most recent move occurred during a Sept. 16 meeting when members agreed to begin the process of hiring an interim general manager that would be asked to assume some of the workload of acquiring the Pine and Strawberry water companies now owned by Brooke Utilities.

Board chairman Bill Haney said the cost of a part-time general manager would probably be $30 to $35 per hour for up to eight months.

Haney also said that the new general manager, when hired, could assume some of the work that board attorney John Gliege is now doing for $300 per hour.

The board voted to pursue the hiring of a general manager but only after settling on a job description and qualifications.

At an Aug. 30 meeting, board members initiated another leap toward the take over by hiring the firm of Stone and Youngberg to serve as financial advisers.

Stone and Youngberg is a San Francisco-based financial service company that was founded in 1931 and has offices in Phoenix.

At the most recent meeting, the board decided to form a committee to research the possibility of a quarterly newsletter to keep users informed on acquisition efforts.

It was also announced there would be a supplemental water committee meeting at 4 p.m., Sept. 30 at Bishop Realty.

Haney said he would like the committee to iron out a common agreement with those who are interested in sharing water with the district.

Haney said he didn’t want the board forced to negotiate with each individual source.

The board also discussed the possibility of hosting a future public meeting for gathering input on the acquisition of the two water companies. A committee was formed to plan the meeting.

Board secretary Richard Dickinson said a representative of the firm of Coe and Van Lou, who was hired last spring to appraise the value of Pine and Strawberry water companies, was recently in the Rim Country to complete the appraisal. Dickinson said the CVL appraiser did not receive on-site help from Brooke Utilities in finding the two companies assets.

Brooke president Robert Hardcastle said, “That is not accurate, this was their inspection and we provided access to every property they asked to see.”

The meeting wrapped up with a call to the public in which the head of Rim Country Water, Fred Krafczyk, talked of the importance of the re-election of current PSWID board members. He also spoke of the candidacy of Sam Schwalm, who is an active member of the watchdog group Water for Pine Strawberry.

Schwalm, who Krafczyk called “the opposition,” is a frequent critic of the methods the current board uses to take over the two water companies. He is particularly critical of the board’s spending practices, especially the amounts paid to Gliege, which he says have exceeded $40,000.

Schwalm has responded to Krafczyk by saying he is running simply because he cares about the two communities and not as some type of plot to undermine the members’ efforts.The board seats of vice-chairman Terry Schleizer, Donald Smith, Tom Weeks and Dickinson expire in December.

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