STOKES COUNTY WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY

 

MINUTES

 

AUGUST 23, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

            The Stokes County Water and Sewer Authority met on August 23, 2007, in the Commissioners Chambers, Ronald Reagan Building in Danbury, N.C.  The meeting was delayed for Board Member, Wayne Smart’s arrival. 

 

            The following members were present:

 

            John Hawkins, Vice Chairman

            Arzell Montgomery, Member

            Wayne Smart, Member

 

            Absent:  Worth Hampton, Member

                           Ron Clifford, Member

 

            Bryan Steen, County Manager

            Julia Edwards, Finance Director

            Ron Morgan, Economic Development Director

            Brenda Carter, Secretary

 

            Mr. Hawkins, Vice Chairman called the meeting to order in the absence of Mr. Ron Clifford, newly appointed Chairman.  Mr. Hawkins noted that Mr. Clifford had resigned as Chairman/Member of the SCWS Authority.  Mr. Hawkins asked if Mr. Clifford had submitted his resignation and Mr. Steen, the County Manager noted that he had sent a letter of resignation.  Mr. Steen noted that he had three things to bring before the SCWS Board, one being Mr. Clifford’s resignation and the appointment of a new Chairman.  Also the meter reading and billing by the Town of Walnut Cove and he had received a call on Thursday morning that MLP Construction would like to continue the meter reading and billing.  Mr. Steen noted that Ms. Joyce with MLP Construction had informed Mr. Steen that she had not received authorization to turn residents water off that have not been paying their bills.

 

            Mr. Steen noted that looking over some billing information that had been printed out on June 4th there seemed to be about 55 overdue accounts.  Mr. Steen noted that he had a meeting and would have to leave.  Mr. Hawkins noted that since Mr. Steen had to leave the Board would hear his issues after approval of the minutes of the last meeting.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

            Mr. Hawkins asked if there were any corrections to the July 19, 2007, minutes.  As there were no corrections to the minutes, Mr. Smart made a motion to approve the minutes of July 19, 2007, Mr. Montgomery seconded the motion and the motion was approved. 

 

CHAIRMAN RESIGNATION

 

            Mr. Steen noted that an unsigned letter had been received stating that Mr. Ron Clifford had resigned effective immediately. He stated that the Board might want to accept this letter and approve his resignation or to request a signed letter of resignation and to appoint a new Chairman.

 

            Mr. Smart noted that a new member would need to be appointed and Mr. Steen noted that this would be brought before the Board of County Commissioners.  Mr. Smart informed the Board that he had called Mr. Clifford and told him that the Board would like for him to stay on as a member, but Mr. Clifford noted that he realized how much he had to do and would not have time to serve on the Board. 

 

            After further discussion, Mr. Hawkins made a motion to accept Mr. Clifford’s resignation, seconded by Mr. Smart.

 

APPOINTMENT OF NEW CHAIRMAN

 

            The Board next discussed the appointment of a new Chairman.  Mr. Montgomery made a motion to appoint Mr. John Hawkins as Chairman and Mr. Wayne Smart as Vice Chairman.  Mr. Smart and Mr. Hawkins noted that Mr. Montgomery should serve as chairman or vice chairman.  Mr. Hawkins stated that he thought appointment of chairman and vice chairman should wait until after a new member was appointed.  Mr. Ron Morgan noted that he didn’t think enough members were present to vote for a new chairman and vice chairman. 

 

            Mr. Steen noted that he thought the Board could go along with the Vice Chairman now, but the Board should approve of the motion to accept Mr. Clifford’s resignation.  The motion was approved.

 

            Mr. Hawkins noted that the appointment of a new chairman would be tabled until the next meeting.

 

 

 

 

METER READING/BILLING

 

            Mr. Steen informed the Board that MLP Construction would continue reading the meters and would also continue with the billing if the Board so chose.  Mr. Steen noted that he had not been pleased with MLP and also noted that he had not received anything officially concerning signing a formal agreement with Walnut Cove.

 

            Mr. Smart gave an update on his meeting with the officials of the Town of Walnut Cove.  He and Mr. Hawkins had met with them and had been given a list of things that they would need before taking over the lines.  Mr. Homer Dearmin, the Town Manager, called MLP for some information and they had faxed that information to him.  Mrs. Carter had located maps of the Germanton/Highway #65 water lines and Mr. Smart had delivered copies of these to the Mayor of Walnut Cove. 

 

            Mr. Smart noted that they seemed pleased with the information.  He had also told the officials that if they agreed to this joint venture they could apply for a grant for sewer.  Mr. Smart noted that the City of King had also showed an interest in taking over the system.   It is his opinion that one or the other of the two will take over the system.

 

            Mr. Steen noted that he would like to meet with the officials of King to discuss with them this possibility.  He also noted that he had posted Mr. Jay Kinney’s position with a job description containing knowledge of a water system.  He noted that it was possible to have interviews the following week for this position. 

 

            Mr. Steen and the Board discussed a letter of complaint signed by three women that were complaining about the quality of water in their homes. Their complaint was there was a foul odor, ghastly taste and it leaves a black greasy looking residue in their commodes, dishwashers, and washing machines. Their homes are located along Highway #65/Germanton area.  Mr. Steen noted that the water problem might be that the water is getting stagnant in the lines. 

 

            Mr. Smart noted that Mr. Clifford, the former board member, stated that the chlorine gets low when this happens, that it is present at all times, but shows when the level of chlorine gets low.  Mr. Steen noted that according to Mr. Clifford MLP was to flush these lines, but MLP stated that they were not to flush these lines, that the City of Winston-Salem was to add extra chlorine to the water. 

 

            Mr. Smart noted that MLP was to flush these lines.  Mr. Montgomery noted that in the past MLP did flush the lines, that he would see them do this from his house.

 

            Mr. Smart noted at this time there is no need to worry about the flushing as Walnut Cove is out of water and have opened the valves and are using the water coming out Highway #65 from Forsyth County.  Mr. Smart noted that a leak had been found at the Walnut Cove School causing this loss of water. 

 

            Mr. Hawkins asked Mr. Montgomery if he had problems with the water at his house and Mr. Montgomery noted that he never tasted chlorine or found the residue.  He also noted that one of the three women that signed the letter lived on the Forsyth County side of Highway #65 and was not on our system.  Mr. Steen noted that flushing of the lines would correct this problem.

 

 DELINQUENT BILLS

 

            Mr. Hawkins noted that the next item would be the delinquent bills from the Highway #65/Germanton system.

 

            Mr. Steen noted that he understood that in the beginning that MLP was not having a problem with collecting the unpaid bills, cutting the water off, but Kim Joyce with MLP said that they were not authorized to do this. 

 

            Ms. Edwards noted that in the past there were citizens coming to the Finance Department to pay past due bills before their water was cut off.  Ms. Edwards stated that the Board had never told them that they could not cut the water off.

 

            Mr. Steen asked Mrs. Carter if she remembered a policy for this in the past and Mrs. Carter stated that she would check past minutes for this information.

 

Mr. Steen noted that he wanted to get a letter sent to MLP from the Board stating that they should be billing according to the agreement and the full process that goes along with the billing.  He noted that there are 65 accounts that are overdue and as of June 4th the past due months total was $19,659. Mr. Steen noted that he was not happy with this nor was he happy with his inability to get in touch with MLP by telephone. 

 

Mr. Smart noted that the Town of Walnut Cove seemed to be leaving the decision of taking over the Hwy. #65 system to Mr. Dearmin, the Town Manager and Mr. Starnes, the Mayor of Walnut Cove and suggested to Mr. Steen that he might wish to meet with them concerning this system.

 

Mr. Smart informed the Walnut Cove officials that the Board was considering digging wells in Germanton and eliminating the lines to Forsyth County and the Town Board seemed to like this idea also. 

 

Mr. Smart noted that he had also talked with them about sewer lines and possibly turning the lines over to Walnut Cove in the future and that this would be something the SCWSA Board would have to discuss. Mr. Smart had stated at the meeting that the Town of Walnut Cove could try this for six months to see if it worked for them.

 

Mr. Steen asked if the Board would authorize him to write a letter to MLP for them to take the appropriate steps to begin collecting the delinquent bills.  Mr. Montgomery made the motion, seconded by Mr. Smart and all approved.

 

USE AND OCCUPANCY/NCDOT

 

Mr. Steen then informed the Board that before Jay Kinney left he had received a letter from the NCDOT about Use and Occupancy for work done on Highway #8.  This was for moving and replacing fire hydrants and meters that DOT needed to do to replace bridges on Highway #8.  Mr. Steen asked for the Board’s approval to sign off on this letter to DOT.  Mr. Montgomery made a motion for Mr. Steen to sign off on the letter, seconded by Mr. Smart and the motion was approved. 

 

GOLDER ASSOCIATES INVOICE

 

            Ms. Edwards then brought before the Board information concerning an invoice from Golder Associates.  She noted that Golder Associates had informed her that they had over budgeted by $11,176 in Phase One and Phase Two, but because the work was performed in Phase One and Two it would not have to be done in Phase Three, so the charges would be the same. Ms. Edwards noted that they had included in the invoice that it was because of two unscheduled meetings with the Board.  Ms. Edwards needed the Board’s approval to pay this invoice. 

 

            After discussion, Mr. Montgomery made a motion for Ms. Edwards to pay this invoice.  After further discussion, Mr. Montgomery revised his motion to request Golder Associates to revise the invoice to show the projection of costs that was discussed with changes and expenditures of the different phases before payment of the invoice.  Mr. Hawkins seconded the motion and the motion was approved.

 

            The County Manager exited the meeting at this time.

 

GOLDER AND ASSOCIATES REPORT

 

            Mr. Hawkins noted that Mr. Clifford was to discuss the report from Golder Associates, but as Mr. Clifford had resigned Mr. Hawkins would give his opinion of the report.

 

            Mr. Hawkins noted that after looking over the report from Golder Associates that the Germanton area was the best location.  He also noted that the report shows that in the Brook Cove area there are two hazardous waste sites.  Mr. Montgomery noted there was previously a service station in the area, this might be the source of contamination.  Mr. Hawkins’ concern was that it addresses it as an EPA Toxic Release.

 

Mr. Hawkins noted that Groundwater Evaluation #7 is the most likely site for a well and this would be far enough away to be no harm.

           

            Mr. Hawkins noted that it was a good, detailed report, but the geological study was dated.  Mr. Hawkins noted that the next step was to get a letter out to Golder Associates concerning the fees

 

JOINT VENTURE WITH WALNUT COVE

 

            Mr. Hawkins asked Mr. Smart if everything had been covered concerning the joint venture with Walnut Cove and Mr. Smart noted that everything had been discussed earlier in the meeting. 

 

 

 

ITEMS OF GENERAL CONCERN

 

            Mr. Hawkins then discussed the matter of unauthorized water withdrawal from fire hydrants for the purpose of filling swimming pools.  Mr. Hawkins noted that he had spoke with the Sheriffs Department asking them to watch for trucks withdrawing water from the hydrants and to let them know that the SCWS Authority had not authorized anyone to withdraw water from the hydrants.

 

            Mr. Hawkins then asked if there was any further business other than scheduling the next meeting. The Board set the next meeting for October 18, 2007.

 

            Mr. Montgomery asked what Mr. Steen was doing about the uncollected water bills and Ms. Edwards noted that Mr. Steen was to write a letter to MLP informing them that they were to be cutting the water off to the customers not paying their bills.  Mr. Montgomery asked if there was a legal way of collecting for past due accounts and Ms. Edwards noted that she would take time to do a setoff of these accounts with an attachment to their taxes. 

 

            Mr. Hawkins noted that earlier there was an instance of people selling property and not paying and the Board agreed that the agreements should be filed with the Register of Deeds so that lien searches would show if anything was owing on property.

           

            Mr. Smart noted that he didn’t think billing was done for the Germanton/Hwy #65 users.  Mr. Smart noted that he had received calls from homeowners along Hwy. #65 stating they did not want a large bill, that they had not received a bill for the water usage.  Mr. Smart also noted that someone that had rental property had not been billed in a year.

 

            As there was no further business, Mr. Montgomery made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Mr. Hawkins and the motion was approved.