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Valley Electric set for annual, special meeting in Pahrump

Valley Electric Association Inc. is set to have its annual meeting on Saturday with a special meeting scheduled just after that.

The Pahrump-based rural electric cooperative is planning to open the doors to registrants for the special meeting starting at 11 a.m. at the Pahrump Valley High School at 501 E. Calvada Blvd. The annual meeting is scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m.

Just after that, a special meeting, called by Valley’s board of directors in April, is set to start between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the high school, according to Michael Hengel, vice president of corporate communications for Valley Electric Association.

According to a news release from Valley, the special meeting was called by the board to address concerns over the board’s fiduciary responsibilities and the recall process for members of Valley’s board.

“We have heard member concerns, and we are listening to what members say,” said Derschan in the news release. “Questions and comments revolving around the board’s fiduciary responsibilities and how a recall can occur have come up.

“Members have a right to elect board members, and they have the right to recall them,” Derschan said. “That process is spelled out in the bylaws. We want our members to hear firsthand about what being a fiduciary means and how a recall needs to be conducted in accordance with the bylaws and the articles of incorporation.”

A members group, VEA Members for Change, is still working to remove several of Valley’s board of directors. The members group formed after the announcement of rate increases for Valley’s residential electric customers and broadband subscribers in the early months of 2019.

Organizers of VEA Members for Change have commented that Valley is not following the bylaws by not calling a special meeting of the membership following the group’s obtainment of a signature requirement under the bylaws. The group initiated a petition drive in February.

Members for Change has obtained signatures equating to at least 10 percent of the membership, a requirement to call a special meeting to remove Valley’s board of directors, according to organizers for the group. The membership level of Valley was approximately 18,750, according to Members for Changes’ social media stream.

The number of Valley member-owners signing the petition to remove several of Valley’s directors increased after the arrest of Angela Evans, named Valley’s CEO in October 2018, at the end of February on suspicion of embezzlement. Allegations include that Evans charged $75,000 worth of work on her personal residence in Pahrump to the co-op.

Evans was put on paid administrative leave following her arrest, pending an outside, third-party investigation. That investigation was recently completed.

Dick Peck, interim chief for Valley, said that a private investigator went through Valley’s records “to determine if there was any illegal activity or unauthorized activity, and the investigation showed that Angela Evans was not involved in any decision-making processes or business processes along the road,” Peck said in a April 19 story in the Pahrump Valley Times. “That was between the owner of the property and Valley.”

Peck continued in that report: “A violation of any kind was a violation of our integrity policy. Somewhere down the line, she should have identified she had… was going to acquire a financial interest in this property, so there was maybe a small policy breakdown.”

Overall, Peck said that “there was no embezzlement.”

As of Wednesday, Evans had not been formally charged, according to a clerk for the Pahrump Justice Court. Evans is due in court on Monday in justice court in Pahrump.

According to an email from Peck, Valley’s board is also scheduled to meet with Evans the week following the annual meeting, which he said in response to an inquiry about Evans’ future with Valley.

Valley also completed its 2018 audit, which was conducted following allegations that a financial cover-up of sexual harassment by a former leader occurred at Valley.

The audit, conducted by Texas-based Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert &Moss in February, found Valley’s 2018 financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of VEA,” according to a news release from Valley.

“This puts it in black and white,” said Peck in a news release from Valley. “Members know with 100 percent confidence that Valley Electric has been honest and completely transparent in its governance and accounting with members’ funds.”

Vehicle auction

Valley is also planning to auction off 13 vehicles and two trailers after the special meeting. The auction will be held at the high school.

“We have too many vehicles in our fleet, so it’s time to move them out,” Peck said. “If a member needs a vehicle, like one of the ones we have, this will be a good opportunity to get one at a good price.”

Some of the items up for grabs include late model cargo vans, along with vehicles from the mid-2000s and prior: trucks, SUVs and other “articles from Valley’s warehouse,” according to a news release from Valley.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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