Leader Blues

Monday, August 13, 2007

TOP STORY >>WaterWorks seeks member willing to work

Leader staff writer

The commission that runs Cabot WaterWorks will advertise soon for a new member, someone with the background and education to help with the seemingly endless list of details associated with the city’s growth that has kept the commission busy for the past two years.

That was the consensus Thursday night of the four members left after the sudden resignation of banker Don Keesee, who has taken a position in northern Arkansas with Regions Bank.

“We need someone who wants to work,” said Bill Cypert, commission secretary.

Commissioner Cary Hobbs concurred. Whoever takes over Keesee’s seat will have to understand that serving on the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission is “not an every other Thursday golf and lunch club,” he said.

The commission is currently engaged in building a sewer plant and a water line to connect to Central Arkansas Water. With the help of Tadd Bohannon, the commission’s attorney, it has drafted and approved developer polices to ensure, for example, that the pipes that go in the ground are inspected before they are covered.

Commissioner Gary Walker, who was unanimously chosen by the other commissioners to replace Keesee as vice-chairman, called the decision to advertise “a wise move.”

So did city Attorney Jim Taylor, who has attended the meetings in recent months. Taylor said advertising would be an affirmation that the commission really does answer to the public.

Only Chairman J.M. Park had reservations. Only one person can be chosen, he said. So it is very likely that someone is going to be mad, he said.

Before they can advertise, the commission must approve the criteria for selecting its new member. Cypert, Bohannon and Karen Ballard, WaterWorks human resources manager, were selected for a committee to draft that document.

The selection process could take several months. Park pointed out that the commission must have at least three members to do business. With four, they can easily operate until a new member is found.

But by state law, the commission can only recommend Keesee’s replacement. The city council, which appointed all the other commissioners, will appoint the new one.

The commission also discussed insurance for employees. Currently, WaterWorks employees and city employees, have insurance through the Municipal League. To keep the cost down for all the employees Ballard has been working with the city’s human resources manager to find a new insurance provider.