Attorney Moves to Stop Annual JWC Meeting

JENKINSVILLE (Jan. 5, 2017) – An attorney representing Jenkinsville Water Company member Donald Melton and his Broad River Campground, LLC has asked the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting the water company from holding its annual meeting, scheduled for Jan. 11.

In the motion filed Tuesday, Winnsboro attorney Glenn Bowens asked the Court to stop the meeting until the water company complies with specific aspects of the S.C. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

According to an Aug. 8, 2011 written opinion from S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, the JWC is a public body and therefore subject to the FOIA. However, according to Bowens’ motion, “The Defendant (JWC) claims the Attorney General’s opinion is just the opinion of a lawyer and is not binding on the Defendant.”

The FOIA requires that public bodies post, in a publicly accessible place, written notices and agendas of all meetings at least 24 hours in advance. Public bodies must also, at the beginning of each calendar year, post written notice of all scheduled meetings for the upcoming year.

But the water company, according to the motion, failed to provide such notice. Not only did the JWC not post notice for its upcoming Jan. 11 annual meeting, the motion states, it did not do so for last year’s annual meeting.

Board members are elected by company members (customers) during the annual meeting. According to the company’s bylaws, the motion states, each member is allowed a single vote. However, according to the motion, some members have been allowed to cast multiple votes based on the number of water meters or taps they have. The company has also allowed people claiming to represent commercial customers to cast votes at the annual meeting without verifying that they do, in fact, represent a commercial customer.

Officers are also elected by the board at the annual meeting, but in closed-door sessions that are out of view of the public, which is also a violation of the FOIA.

The motion asks the Court to prohibit the annual meeting until proper notification has been given;  the water company has in place a procedure by which to verify that voters claiming to represent commercial customers actually do so, and until the water company can ensure that the one-member, one-vote rule of the bylaws is being followed.

Until a judge issues a ruling on the motion, however, the meeting is still slated for 7 p.m. at the former fire station next door to the JWC offices at the intersection highways 213 and 215.