County fills sewer board vacancy; some say board should be elected
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Thursday, May 7, 2009 3:16 pm
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (May 7, 2009) — County commissioners decided Monday to fill a vacancy on the Pulaski County Sewer District board by appointing a man who attends most sewer board meetings anyway as a visitor.
Commissioner Bill Farnham said he had no objection to appointing Carl Jensen, a Hunter’s Point/Southside resident who is a sewer district customer, but wants to see a new system put in place for selecting sewer board members.
“I know there are certain boards we never had problems with, but the sewer board is very controversial,” Farnham said. “All these other boards, the ambulance district and fire and water boards, are elected by the people. That would take us out of it.”
Electing sewer board members would require a change in state law. Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall has tried to appoint only residents of Cullen Township — the rural area outside Waynesville and St. Robert stretching from Buckhorn on the west to Devil’s Elbow on the east — where the sewer district actually has sewer lines, but Ransdall said it’s not clear who would vote if the sewer board became an elected body.
“Then the next question is since the court gave them the whole county, who votes on it? The whole county or just Cullen Township?” Ransdall asked.
“I don’t know the answer to that. They have a lawyer on their staff, we don’t, and they can do that research,” Farnham replied.
Jensen replaces Curtis Felton, a resident of the same area who resigned from the sewer board because his job duties at Fort Leonard Wood made it difficult to attend meetings. Felton’s term would have expired on June 30, 2010, and Jensen will be up for reappointment at that time.
The term of another board member, Jim Parsons, will expire June 30 of this year.
Ransdall said he’s extensively checked out Jensen’s background, and didn’t see a need to interview Jensen in the board meeting prior to the appointment. Some had suggested that the county commissioners interview board candidates to find out their views on a lawsuit filed by the sewer district against the city of Waynesville over who can serve customers in the Buckhorn area, but Ransdall said that would not be wise.
“Anytime there is any pending litigation, matters brought up here that could concern somebody else, we want to stay away from that,” Ransdall said. “We’ve had numerous reports about this guy that he’s attended all the meetings except one for the last six months, and that was because he had a doctor’s appointment ... He’s not on an axe-grinding mission, he’s not up there to fluff up somebody’s pillow.”
Ransdall said he’s been told that Jensen asks good questions about board meetings and would be a helpful asset to the board.
“I’ve checked, double-checked, asked some of the people who are involved in some of the battles, and they don’t even know the guy,” Ransdall said. “That could be a good sign since he’s not involved in any of the battles.”
In other business:
• Commissioners received a report from Lawson Smith on a conference held Saturday to discuss local response to a potential swine flu outbreak. Farnham, who often vacations in Mexico and is familiar with the conditions in that country, said Pulaski County officials need to be aware how serious an outbreak could become.
“With the I-44 corridor, we have a direct line to Mexico. If a trooper pulls a truck over, and he gets infected and goes home and infects his family, we have a problem,” Farnham said.
• Ransdall received a call from a resident objecting to conditions on the side roads off Texas Road east of St. Robert. Farnham said weather conditions make it virtually impossible to do road repair work until the rain stops and the ground dries out.
• Commissioners noted that the Pulaski County Courthouse will be closed Friday for Truman Day, and even if weather conditions improve on Friday, road crews won’t be working due to the holiday.