Board Member Warns Media

Customer Questions Go Unanswered

JENKINSVILLE (Dec. 22, 2016) – On Dec. 6, following a relatively uneventful Dec. 5 monthly meeting of the Jenkinsville Water Board, The Voice received a warning letter via email from one of the Board members describing what would happen if the newspaper didn’t meet his suggestions for reporting on the meeting.

“I am sending you this prior to your next probable story on the Jenkinsville Water Co.,” wrote Board member Preston Peach. In an excerpt from the letter, Peach wrote, “I would caution you to be fair and balanced and not to write a one-sided story. . . . I’m not saying you will this time, but I already have a big disagreement with the last story by you on the water company and am in the process of sending out over 900 letters (to water company customers and others) challenging it. . . . I have no choice but to send them out since you went ahead with your story the way you did,” Peach wrote.

“I am not pre-judging you or saying your story will be biased, because you haven’t written it yet,” he continued. “. . . But to give you an opportunity to write a fair story, I would be glad to offer plenty of relevant information that will shed light on every issue that came up at last night’s meeting.

“The choice is yours. I would hate to have to write and send out a second letter,” Peach warned.

The Voice has not, at press time, received a copy of any letter that Peach said he sent out, and water customers contacted by The Voice say they have also not received the letter.

While Fairfield County Sheriff’s deputies were present at the Dec. 5 meeting at the request of Water Board President Gregrey Ginyard, they did not enter the building and there were no disruptions.

Customer Inquiries

Several water company members (customers) asked questions of Ginyard.

Delamia Thompson asked if it would be possible to open the office of the water company during the daytime so she would not have to drive after dark to pay her water bill.

“There’s a box outside you can drop your payment in,” Ginyard replied. But Thompson said that would not work for people who pay cash.

County Councilwoman-elect and customer Bertha Goins asked if the annual meeting, which is scheduled for the evening, could be moved to a Saturday during the day to make it more convenient for customers to attend. There was no response.

Commercial customer Dee Melton asked which members of the Board are up for re-election.

“I’m not sure,” Ginyard answered. “I know I am. I’m not sure who else is.”

Melton also asked when customers could expect to start receiving a monthly water report as required by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). That report, he said, should include the amount of water produced, the amount estimated to be lost (leaked), the amount the JWC purchased from Mid-County Water Company and the amount sold to customers.

“I’ve been asking for this report for three to four months, and there’s always an excuse why we can’t get it – the ladies in the office are busy or Mr. (James) Green (who gives the water production reports at meetings, leaves before questions can be asked by customers) is out. Can we get those reports?” Melton asked.

“We have new people in the office,” Ginyard said.

“It’s been three months,” Melton said. “When can we get it?”

“We’re going to try to get that done,” Ginyard said.

Earlier in the meeting, Green, a licensed water operator, read a water report limited only to water production for the month: water produced by wells (3,663,800 gallons) and water purchased from Mid-County Water Company (2,034,000 gallons) for a total of 5,697,800 gallons. There was no report of loss except to give the locations of five leaks.

Following customer comments, Board member Tangee Jacobs reminded Ginyard that the Board had previously agreed that any questions except those pertaining to bills are to be submitted to the office in writing.

“And we’ll get back to the person with the answers,” Jacobs said to Ginyard. “We need to address that.”

“Yes, ma’am. I was wrong to answer them. I was just trying to be courteous and answer questions,” Ginyard said.

“So, then, for the sake of the minutes, when we vary and try to be courteous, then that opens the door for other questions to be asked,” Jacobs cautioned Ginyard.

“That’s right,” Ginyard agreed.

“So, for the sake of the record, it is noted that unless it pertains to a bill, any questions, issues or concerns (of customers) will be submitted in writing and the Board will answer back as soon as possible,” Jacobs said.

“Yes, ma’am,” Ginyard agreed.

After an executive session in which Ginyard said personnel matters and the Broad River Campground lawsuit were discussed, the Board did not vote on any issues.

Referring to the agenda topic “President’s Report”, Ginyard said he had “given you all the information I have,” though he did not say what that information was or whether it was disseminated in executive session.

The monthly financial report was tabled since Ginyard said there had not been time for the Board’s accountant to prepare it for review.

The annual meeting will be held at an as yet unspecified location in Jenkinsville at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 13. Board members whose seats are up for re-election include: Ginyard, Joseph McBride, Preston Peach, Jacobs and Timothy Roseborough. It has not been announced which, if any of these, are seeking re-election.

The Board will hold a special called work session tonight, Dec. 22, at 6 p.m.