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Changes at Cucharas District

by Carol Dunn
CUCHARA— At its December 14 meeting, the Board of the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District discussed some changes taking place in the next couple months.
The staff will try out abbreviated winter (approximately Labor Day to Memorial Day) office hours starting in January: Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm. Chairman Art Pierce explained, “Winter demand for walk-ins and phone calls is pretty low. Definitely in summer we’ll have to add a person.” It is anticipated the district will hire a part-time person at some point, and the board asked Administrative Assistant Jennette Coe to write a job description for the position. Coe and General Manager Bob Northup are trying to reorganize office duties since Barbara Williams is retiring. Pierce expressed thanks for Williams, saying, “We appreciate her work.” Director Jim Howard added, “She kept everybody on the board straight and on the right track.”
Pierce reported he recently met with Bruce Cantrell, who owes the district a substantial amount of money in unpaid water bills. Two years ago, the district had given Cantrell a reduced water rate while construction was taking place on the ski resort, but rescinded the rate after work ceased and the water bill payments became delinquent. The difference between full rate and the discounted rate is $1,700 per month. “We haven’t seen progress to justify a reduced rate,” said Pierce. Cantrell is still requesting the reduced water rate be reinstated, and is, according to Pierce, trying to leverage the use of Boggy Bottoms and some old sections of pipe, as justification for his request, even suggesting legal recourse. “I told him, if you feel like you need to involve lawyers, that’s your prerogative,” Pierce told the board.
Northup reported that the engineers are still working on the engineering for the Cucharas water tank project. He said when it is ready, it will be turned over to the US Forest Service for use in preparing the permit. The project needs to be under contract by June 2013, and the permit will be required before any work takes place. The omnibus certificate has been signed, and the loan closing papers are in the mail. Northup said the district will try to close on the loan by December 20 and take receipt of the funds. Although the project won’t break ground until next summer, he said the engineers need to be paid, and that will “get the ball rolling.”
The water and wastewater plants look good, according to Northup. He said the automated equipment has been adjusted to six-hour cycles instead of four-hour, which will save the district about $600 per month on the cost of operation.
Northup said Yellow Pine Guest Ranch has proposed to buy a portion of the #5 Dodgeton Creek water rights and trade it to the district for pond augmentation. However, he said the district had investigated that water right in 2005. At that time, it was deemed to not be helpful to the district, since there would be dry years when it would not be in priority, and any additional Dodgeton Creek water the district might take could not be stored. Northup said, under the current circumstances, the attorney did not recommend accepting the offer made by Yellow Pine.
The board approved a rate reduction from November through March during ongoing remodeling of six rooms at the Cuchara Inn. The total discount will amount to $530.
The crew reburied the water line on Aspen Avenue even deeper and insulated it to protect against freezing. Northup said two water leaks were repaired in Spanish Peaks subdivision.
The district approved its meeting schedule for 2013: the second Friday of each month at 9 am.