Sewer board chair's resignation raises county concerns due to lawyer wife

Darrell Todd Maurina

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (July 15, 2010) — Faced with a former sewer board chairman who says he’s resigned but hasn’t submitted a written letter of resignation, Pulaski County commissioners said Thursday they were hesitant to fill the vacancy.

A complicating factor is that the wife of former sewer board chairman Mark Cortesini is a lawyer. Ronda Cortesini runs the Waynesville office of the Allan and Rector law firm.

“I think to cover ourselves, if we could get a letter from (sewer district attorney Bill) Hickle, that would be good,” said Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch. “With his wife being an attorney, he could just be waiting.”

“You’d better dot them and cross them,” concurred Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink.

Ronda Cortesini was previously the attorney for the Pulaski County Sewer District when she worked for the Lowe and Lowe law firm. Not long before David Lowe decided to run against Associate Circuit Judge Greg Warren, Cortesini — then known by her previous name of Ronda Neff — left the Lowe and Lowe law firm for her current employer; the Lowe and Lowe law firm then decided not to continue representing the sewer district. Sewer board members then retained Bill Hickle from Rolla to represent them, and the sewer district is now embroiled in long-running litigation with the city of Waynesville over who has the right to provide sewer service in areas that were outside the Waynesville city limits when the sewer board was organized but have since been annexed into the city.

Interim sewer board chairman Gary Porter was present at the county commission meeting and McCulloch asked Porter if he knew why Cortesini resigned.

“We had some challenges and differences in direction on where we should go,” Porter replied. “I want to move forward and we need to get some things done and settled.”

Porter didn’t clarify what those things are that need to be “done and settled,” but said he’d be back next week and requested a closed session of the county commission to discuss unspecified legal matters.

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