Holmes Harbor sewer commissioners resign

"Newly appointed Holmes Harbor Sewer District commissioners (from left) Meg Windgard, Susie Yeilding, Don LaMontagne, and Stan Walker talk with district clerk Ken Ecklebarger after Tuesday night's special meeting.Matt Johnson / staff photoThree Holmes Harbor Sewer District commissioners gave district ratepayers what they wanted Tuesday night by resigning from their posts.Commissioners Don Cardner and Don Wills resigned their offices at a special meeting Tuesday night while another commissioner, Heather Houlihan, stepped down last Wednesday.The board's former president, Linda Zoll, quit the body on Aug. 3. A fifth commissioner, Bill Spalding, resigned in July after he moved out of the district.All five commissioners were on the board last October when they approved a $20 million bond sale the state Auditor's Office has since ruled illegal. Last week, a Holmes Harbor Sewer District ratepayers' group put pressure on the remaining commissioners - Cardner, Wills, and Houlihan - to step aside. Group members stated last week that they would use a recall election to remove the commissioners if necessary.Taking care to maintain a three-person quorum, Cardner and Wills remained on the board long enough Tuesday to appoint their successors. With Commissioner Meg Wingard, who was appointed to the board on July 31, the downsized board appointed Jim Gervais to take Houlihan's seat. Moving on without a break, the commissioners then named Stan Walker to fill Zoll's position. Walker is a new district resident, having moved into his home last week.Minutes later, Wills resigned, stating that he did not have the time to do a commissioner's job. He said there are other people living in the district who could make a bigger impact on the district's future.My contributions were minimal as I was in learning mode, Wills said.After Wills left the boardroom conference table, Cardner, Wingard, and Gervais quickly named his replacement, Don LaMontagne. Then it was Cardner's turn to resign.Clearly choked up, Cardner read his letter of resignation, then shook hands with the district's new commissioners. He told them they have a lot of work to do.You've got a lot of problems, he said. I wish you a lot of luck.It was another 90 minutes before the four-member board completed its membership. Near the end of the meeting, district resident Susie Yeilding stated she was interested in joining the board. The commissioners voted unanimously to appoint her. As she took her seat at the table, the 20-plus people attending the meeting applauded.Several crises face the new board. The district could soon face lawsuits from investors who purchased the $20 million in bonds the district sold last year. The district must also find $100,000 to $300,000 to establish a reserve account for its sewer plant. According to the State Auditor, the account should contain $401,000 plus interest earned since 1994.Commissioner Wingard said it could take up to eight years for the district to get clear of these financial entanglements.We will take necessary and prudent steps to make sure the ratepayers are not hurt further, she said.The commissioners will meet next in a special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at the district's offices an Antelope Drive. At that meeting, the commissioners will discuss hiring a new attorney to represent the district and whether or not to dismiss the district's current attorney, Charles Tull. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.On Thursday, the board will hold another special meeting to talk with staffers from the state Auditor's Office, the state Attorney General's Office, and the office of state special attorney general Roy Koegen. That meeting also starts at 6:30 p.m. but will be held at the Holmes Harbor Golf Course clubhouse. "

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