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Cuchara Sanitation and Water District appoints Ault as new director

The board has been one member short since three recent resignations

by Bob Kennemer

Cuchara Sanitation and Water Board President Shella Snider is sporting a holiday necklace that lights as she prepares to chair a meeting of the CSWD board on December 8. Snider was recently appointed to the board after three members resigned during a period of upheaval that included a recall of two board members by dissatisfied citizens. The board was holding their last meeting of the year with plans to pass their 2018 budget. Photo by Bob Kennemer.

CUCHARA — After several weeks of upheaval, resulting in the resignation of three Cuchara Sanitation and Water District (CSWD) board members, the district once again has a full board. In asking for letters of interest to fill the empty seat, the board received two letters. One was from long-time resident James Ault, who was out of town on the day of the CSWD board meeting. The other was from a recent newcomer to the district, Aubrey Whippo. Board president Shella Snider thanked both citizens for their interest and encouraged Whippo to consider running for the board, for in April of 2018 the entire board is up for reelection. There will be seats open for both two and four year terms.

Whippo’s letter explains her family has a cabin in Cuchara, she has been visiting the area since she was a young girl and will soon marry a Cuchara man. She currently works at the Dog Bar. Whippo also has a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business.

Ault has a background in engineering and has been volunteering for the past several months in improving the new Cuchara Mountain Park. He has a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a Master’s degree in business. Ault splits his time between Denver and Cuchara.

Board treasurer Jim Berg provided an update on the board’s finances noting, that the district’s legal fees were still high due to recent utilization of these services by several board members who are no longer on the board. The board expects these fees to drop as there is no longer an interest in utilizing the board’s attorneys for internal squabbles.

The board then passed several resolutions, with the first being the adoption of the 2018 budget. Berg explained that the total operating income for 2018 will be $782,227, which is down slightly from 2017. He noted that income, “…is pretty thick,” with $90,000 expected for 2018. Berg said he expects no major projects for 2018, other than to continue to install and update new water meters. This could cost $40,000 in 2018, which is a big bite according to Berg. This meter project will continue into 2019 and beyond, with the costs going down as the project nears completion. Berg noted there will be no mill levy increase for 2018 and the district has not seen an increase for many years.

Operations manager Shannon Shrout reported to the board the final Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) from GMS (the district’s engineering firm) is expected by the end of the year and he will meet with GMS staff. Shrout said four bleeders were installed at the Spanish Peaks treatment plant as was an underground water conduit. Shrout said the waste water treatment plant will need upgrades in the near future and all of the lab reports for the district are good.

Shrout stated the waterline on Britton Rd. will be moved to next spring, as the district could not meet the county’s compaction requirements this winter. Shrout will be working with county staff to develop access to manholes and sewer lines under the newly paved road in downtown Cuchara.

Director Berg reported on the Water Stewardship Committee, noting the group did not meet recently and is waiting on a grant available next year. The committee is looking at several sites along the Cuchara River to develop increased water storage, and two of the sites are in the CSWD boundaries. Berg said, “We have the support of the Arkansas River Basin for this project.” Berg added. He encouraged the board to get more involved in this process.

It was suggested the board hold a special meeting next week to not only review the PER but to swear in Ault as the new board member, as he must be present to be sworn in. Berg stressed that the board needs to read the PER or to least read the executive summary of the PER, which is only three pages.

Under old business the board discussed their effort to create a citizen’s advisory committee. A notice for this has been published twice and a notice was included in the most recent water bill sent out by the district.

Noting that in the winter most residents are out of the area, Snider suggested keeping this issue open until more people are back in the area. The board would like to have representatives from condo, home and business owners. Snider said more representation was needed from Pine Haven.

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