Water board head steps down after complaints

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

BUSY CORNER &045;&045; After hearing customers complain of wildly fluctuating bills and demand new leadership at Monday’s annual meeting of the Mary Springs Water Association, longtime MSWA President Leonard Whittington resigned his position.

Busy Corner resident Ronnie Clark was immediately elected to replace Whittington on the association’s five-member board.

Meanwhile, the dispute could be headed for court as customers seek to replace the entire panel.

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Liberty attorney Wayne Smith said he gathered 80 proxies last month from MSWA customers in support of the move and placed the group on the agenda for Monday’s meeting.

But Smith said he was informed at the meeting the association’s bylaws had been changed to require a 51 percent vote of the MSWA’s 360 customers to remove the entire board.

&uot;That’s almost unheard of. The bylaws we had said only 10 percent was needed. And now, they say you can’t remove a single member unless he’s at the end of his term,&uot; Smith said.

Whittington said the bylaws were amended at last year’s annual meeting. But many customers in the crowd of 150 at Monday’s meeting said they were unaware of the changes.

Smith was unsure when the amendments were made, but said the group may first try to gather more proxies to meet the 51 percent requirement. &uot;That’s one of our options, and it may be the easiest way to go with this. But we’ll be doing some research, and we might have to file something in Chancery Court,&uot; Smith said.

Smith said 148 members of the association had voted by proxy or at Monday’s meeting to replace the entire board.

Whittington, who served on the board for 35 years, said the association incurred expenses when some of its water lines had to be moved and a tank had to be re-painted. He also said some customers had failed to report leaks.

&uot;I’ve had people tell me ‘Why, I’ve seen that line leaking there for six months.’ Well, why didn’t you report it,&uot; Whittington asked.

MSWA buys its water from the Town of Gloster. Several MSWA customers said they want the association to install a well and supply its own water.

Gloster attorney Cynthia Davis advised board members at Monday’s meeting.