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By JUDY UNDERWOOD
Morgan County News Editor
Sunbright Utility District has a history of problems and turnover in both employees and members of its board of commissioners. As of Monday more changes are coming.
Board president Roy Freels and commissioner Russell Scott have both resigned and Bryant Jones, the SUD Manager, walked off the job.
“If I had known how bad it was I would’ve never taken the appointment,” Scott said Tuesday.
Scott, who has been a respected public servant for many years, said it has proven almost impossible to get anything done because of all the controversy surrounding the utility district.
He believes that controversy will continue as long as commissioners are elected instead of being appointed.
Scott said the biggest factor in his decision was finding out that SUD is not as financially sound as commissioners had been led to believe. Audit reports for the last several years showed the utility in sound financial condition but funds received from grants were being counted as operating funds.
“We may have put water in 13 homes (at thousands of dollars of expense) and only sold $500-worth of water,” Scott said.
Scott said his decision to resign came after a volatile November meeting when he accepted that progress at SUD was not likely.
Freels said the needs at the utility are greater than he has time to give and he wants to devote more time to things he enjoys.
“I try to be a gospel singer and a song writer. I feel like I need to use some of my spare time working for the Lord,” Freels said.
Freels said the utility needs commissioners who are willing to learn, attend seminar and workshops to know how to operate the water utility. He added that he doesn’t have that kind of time to give.
The remaining commissioner Jerry Phillips was in place at the SUD office on Tuesday helping the office and field staff.
“We’re doing what we can to keep the water flowing,” Phillips said. At present, SUD has four employees, two in the office and two in the field.
He has been communicating with County Executive Becky Ruppe who will appoint the board members to replace Freels and Scott. He has also talked with state officials.
Ruppe said that she will not rush the appointments. “I am going to be very selective who I choose,” Ruppe said.
She said she is going to be looking for people with business experience who can oversee the finances at the utility. Ruppe said she will try to accomplish that by Jan. 15 but it may not be possible.