Richard (Rick) Johnson, board member for Valley Electric Association Inc.’s Beatty seat, resigned from his position at the end of August. Johnson is the fourth board member from Valley to resign in 2019.
Johnson, Valley Electric’s District 3 director (Beatty) noted personal and health reasons for his decision, according to a Sept. 2 news release from Valley. His resignation was effective Aug. 29.
“It is with the deepest regret and with a saddened heart that I submit my letter of resignation from the Valley Electric Association Board of Directors,” Johnson stated in a letter of resignation addressed to Valley Board President Dave Hall, according to the co-op’s release.
According to the release, Johnson is undergoing surgery this month, which will be followed by “recovery and further treatment.”
In light of this, Johnson stated in Valley’s release that, “I do not believe I can devote the time and attention needed to fulfill the responsibilities and duties required of a diligent and conscientious director of VEA.”
Johnson has been in his seat at Valley Electric since 2007, according to Valley. He was re-elected to a three-year term on the board in March 2018.
“I have loved the opportunities and experiences being of service to the members of this co-op have afforded me,” Johnson stated in his resignation letter. “I have relished the time I have been able to spend with the wonderful employees of Valley Electric, the residences of my community and the other districts, and the extraordinary individuals who I have had the pleasure of serving with as directors over the past 12 years.”
“Hall said he accepted Johnson’s resignation with regret and appreciated the contributions Johnson made to the co-op,” Valley’s release stated.
“For 12 years, Rick has represented the Beatty area on the VEA board with great distinction,” Hall said. “Rick always put the interests of the membership first. He will be missed. The board’s challenge will be to find a replacement for Rick who is as dedicated as Rick to serving all members, and especially those in District 3.”
Work on filling Johnson’s seat has already started, according to Hall.
Notices of the open seat are set to be mailed to all members within District 3, according to the co-op.
Under the co-op’s bylaws, any member who lives within Valley’s Beatty district is eligible to be appointed to the seat by Valley’s five remaining board members. Subsequently, the person chosen would serve out the remainder of Johnson’s term, which expires in March 2021.
Valley is accepting applications through Sept. 27.
For those interested in the position, send a letter of application to VEA Board President Dave Hall in care of Valley Electric Association. The address is PO Box 237, Pahrump, NV 89041.
A link is set to be created on Valley’s website for District 3 members to submit applications electronically for the vacant seat.
“Before a vote is taken on a successor, a committee of the board will be appointed to screen the applications, and finalists will be interviewed by the board,” the co-op’s release stated.
Hall is hoping to have a new board member for the District 3 seat by October, he said in the release.
Past board changes
Valley’s board has had several changes occur over the last several months. Four board members, including Johnson, have put in their resignation since the early part of 2019.
John Maurer, now former director for Valley’s District 4 (Fish Lake Valley), resigned a few weeks before his term was set to expire in 2019. He hadn’t sought re-election to his seat.
Maurer was succeeded by Kathleen Keyes, who ran unopposed for a three-year term on Valley’s board seat in Fish Lake Valley earlier this year.
Later in 2019, Peter Gazsy, who sat on Valley’s board for District 1 (south Pahrump) resigned in early May, just days after Ken Derschan, Valley’s board president and District 5 (Sandy Valley) director at the time, gave his resignation.
Derschan stated that he was resigning for personal reasons at that time with Gazsy stating that he was resigning due to a “pending recall” in his district, according to a release from Valley on May 4.
Valley’s remaining board at the time in May filled the two vacancies. Michelle Caird was chosen for Valley’s District 1 seat and Derschan’s seat was filled by Terry D’Antonio for District 5 (Sandy Valley).
Regular elections for Valley’s District 5 seat will be held in March 2020 with elections for the District 1 seat planned for March 2021.
Gazsy and Derschan have both been targets of a members’ group known as VEA Members for Change that have actively been trying to remove several of the co-op’s board members since early 2019. Members for Change launched a petition-signing drive in February over rising rates for residential electricity and broadband customers of the co-op.
Members for Change’s original petition called for the removal of six directors. That list included Gazsy, Johnson, Derschan, Hall, Maurer and Dave Dawson (District 6, north Pahrump).
Directors still on the board that were named in that petition are Hall and Dawson.
Hundreds of members signed the petition, with momentum building after the Nye County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into the co-op.
Members for Change reached its goal of signatures earlier in 2019. The group had been in a battle with Valley over the interpretation of the co-op’s bylaws on how to remove a member of the board of directors.
Valley has argued that board members need to be removed by district, where 10 percent of the members of a district would have to sign Members for Change’s petition to remove a director in that district, according to the co-op’s interpretation.
On the investigation by the sheriff’s office, it’s alleged that “hush money” was paid to current and former Valley employees to keep quiet about former CEO Thomas Husted’s alleged sexual harassment of a female employee.
Husted has not been charged with anything.
Former CEO Angela Evans was arrested at the end of February on suspicion of embezzlement of $3,500 or more. She had been on paid administrative leave since the end of February. Then in July, a release from Valley stated that she was no longer with the company.
Evans had been named permanently as CEO of Valley in October 2018, just months after taking the leadership position on an interim basis in May 2018.
Evans has been the only person arrested by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office since an investigation was launched into the co-op in February and two search warrants were executed.
It’s alleged that Evans billed the co-op $75,000 for work done on her personal residence in Pahrump. According to a clerk in the Pahrump Justice Court, formal charges haven’t yet been filed in the case.
Multiple attempts to reach Evans have been unsuccessful.
Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at email@example.com @MeehanLv
At a glance
- Valley Electric Association Inc. is a member-owned nonprofit electric utility headquartered in Pahrump.
- Valley Electric started in 1965 and currently serves over 45,000 people (18,000 members) within a 6,800-square mile service area that rests in southwestern Nevada, along the California-Nevada border. The majority of its territory is in Nevada.
- Valley Communications Association (VCA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Valley Electric, started providing high-speed communications to its member-owners in the spring of 2016.
- Valley’s service area begins in Sandy Valley, southwest of Las Vegas. The service zone extends, from its southern point, north for more than 250 miles to Fish Lake Valley.
- For more information about VEA, please visit www.vea.coop
Source: Valley Electric Association