85°F
weather icon Clear

Groundwater committee opposes bylaws

The chairman of the committee drawing up a groundwater basin management plan Tuesday opposed a request before the Nye County Commission to impose bylaws, even though members of his committee voted 5-1 against enacting bylaws on themselves.

Greg Hafen II said the committee decided if any actions came up that would normally be addressed by bylaws they would make a decision at that time. He said he wasn’t aware of other advisory committees with bylaws.

“Do you want a specific form for this committee to follow or do you want results? If the committee cannot get results, the state engineer has said that he will come in here and he will tell us what to do and that is not what we are here for. These bylaws as written are overly burdensome and do not address the true issues at hand,” Hafen said.

For example, Hafen said limiting the committee to discussing water rights says nothing about domestic wells. Bylaws describing concrete numbers don’t take into account wet years and dry years, he said. Then there’s an article mandating training on Nevada Revised Statutes, Nevada Administrative Code and Nye County Code.

Hafen also objected to guidelines mandating two meetings per month, unless the committee decides otherwise and that the meetings be held at 7 p.m. He said the county wanted to mandate who can make motions and seconds, restrict staff on presenting items and dictate the order board members can speak based on seating arrangements.

“You want to handcuff us and then you’re asking us to sign off on it and you can’t even get our names spelled correctly. We will spend more time dealing with bylaw technicalities than actually getting results. Is that what you want?” Hafen asked.

But committee member and county commission candidate Dave Caudle thought bylaws were necessary.

“Without bylaws we’re just a bunch of people meeting, batting things around a little bit,” he said.

Caudle wanted items that weren’t included in the suggested bylaws concerning conflicts of interest. The board was deliberately set up to include members of each of the private water utilities in Pahrump, along with a representative of well owners, developers and the general public.

“This is the most important subcommittee of this board that has ever been in this valley. If the water board or committee doesn’t come up with a good, proper plan, then we’ve wasted a lot of effort, No. 1, but No. 2, the state engineer is going to come in and do whatever he wants. So we needed some kind of structure and that’s what these did,” Caudle said.

Committee member Wendy Barnett, president of Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada, said she could’ve been restricted from speaking to area Realtors recently under the bylaws, as she wears many hats.

“I think education is a very important part of what we need to do as an advisory committee,” Barnett said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there and there’s a lot of fear about what we might be doing with people’s water and I think we should be out and about in the community as much as we can.”

She said the advisory board has held very civil meetings and got a lot accomplished so far. She said Hafen is doing a good job running the meetings by Roberts Rules of Order.

Committee member Kristian Bentzen wanted a way to get alternates seated on the regular board. They include Kenny Bent, Mike Floyd and Judith Holmgren. Bentzen was in favor of bylaws.

Commissioner Frank Carbone, who sponsored the item, said he wanted some sort of footprint for the committee to work with. “We want to make sure we have some structure and get things accomplished,” he said.

Tim Hafen, the grandfather of Greg Hafen II, said bylaws just create more arguments and nothing gets accomplished.

When it comes to training requirements, he said, “If you don’t have some background you shouldn’t have been appointed to the committee.”

“This morning we heard you need to get government off our backs. Don’t interfere with us. Now some of the same comments are coming back they want bylaws, so that they got rules. I don’t see the consistency of that,” Tim Hafen said.

Water board member John Bosta said a set of bylaws is needed. He charged the chairman was running the meeting the way he wants.

Commissioners ended up not voting on the bylaws. Schinhofen felt if the committee voted against bylaws, the commission should respect its wishes.

“This is turning into the type of committee that I warned about when we set this committee up; we would be so concerned about the form and look of it we wouldn’t get anything done. I am not in favor of imposing rules on them,” Schinhofen said. He said when the committee was set up it was hoped it wouldn’t take more than six months to a year to draft a plan.

Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said normally an advisory board proposes rules for the county commission to adopt.

“This is almost like trying to establish some sort of form over content and I am much more in favor of content and I don’t want to limit the imagination of this group,” she said.

That led Commissioner Donna Cox to ask: “Who wrote this anyway? The committee didn’t write it?”

Carbone said the bylaws were written by several individuals, that included people in the audience.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Webinar on how to avoid being a victim of a COVID-19 scam

The National Consumers League will be hosting a virtual panel event to teach the community how to avoid being a victim of a possible COVID-19 scam.

Additional $20M in PETS grant funds available

Gov. Steve Sisolak, the Nevada State Treasurer’s Office and the Governor’s Office of Economic of Development on Wednesday announced an additional infusion of $20 million in to the Pandemic Emergency Technical Support grant program, which opened for applicants Monday.

Business owner seeking toy donations for kids

A local man, along with his brother, are working to put smiles on children’s faces just in time for the Christmas season.

Angel Tree program accepting applications until Oct. 31

Each December as the year comes to a close, households all around the country begin to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year, the Christmas season, with boughs of holly, strings of garland, bright, cheerful lights and of course, Christmas trees festooned with decorations, all in anticipation of Christmas morning when children will race to unwrap presents and delight over the gifts they have received. But for families who may be facing financial troubles, the joy of the season can be lost in the burden of trying to find a way to put those presents under the tree.

Pahrump Fairgrounds detention basin contract awarded

Construction crews will be heading out to the Pahrump Fairgrounds sometime in the near future to undertake the next step in development at the site, with a detention basin and drainage ditches to set the stage for what is envisioned to one day become a major recreational destination in the valley.

Death Valley campgrounds now open for visitors

As cooler temperatures descend upon the Southwest, officials at Death Valley National Park recently announced the start of camping season.

Aviation art contest open to state’s youth

The Nevada Department of Transportation is inviting Nevada schoolchildren to participate in the National Association of State Aviation Officials’ art contest celebrating the ways in which aviation, hang gliding, hot air ballooning and other air sports connect people across the world.

Unemployment claims rise again, continued claims fall

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation announced Friday that initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 8,964 for the week ending Oct. 10, up 1,023 claims, or 12.9%, compared to last week’s total of 7,941 claims.

Registration now open for Poetry Out Loud contest

Supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, the Nevada Arts Council is proud to announce the 2021 Nevada Poetry Out Loud competition.