52°F
weather icon Clear

VEA board member resigns, new officers named

Updated May 7, 2019 - 4:29 pm

More vacancies were opened on Valley Electric Association Inc.’s board of directors with the resignation of a second board member in early May, Peter Gazsy.

Valley director and board president Ken Derschan resigned citing personal reasons just days prior.

Gazsy, on the board since 2008, submitted his resignation from the co-op’s six-member board on Saturday citing “a pending recall of his District 1 board seat as the reason…,” Valley stated in a news release on Saturday.

Gazsy was a founding member of Valley’s Ambassador program and served as its first chairman, according to the release.

This is the second member of Valley’s board to tender their resignation since the beginning of May. Derschan resigned on May 1, according to a news release from Valley.

Both Gazsy and Derschan were being targeted by a group known as VEA Members for Change, actively trying to get them removed from their seats via a petition-signing initiative that began in February.

Members for Change got its beginnings over rate increases for broadband and energy customers announced by Valley earlier in 2019.

Prior leadership had announced that there would be no energy rate increases until 2024 at several member-owner meetings if the members voted to sell the co-op’s 230-kilovolt transmission system. The transmission system sold for over $200 million in 2017.

Hundreds of Valley’s member-owners signed the petition when the drive launched in February. Momentum increased with the announcement by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on allegations that current and former Valley employees received payoffs to keep quiet about a former leader’s sexual harassment of a female employee and a later announcement of the arrest of Angela Evans, named CEO of the cooperative in October 2018, on suspicion of embezzlement.

The board met with Evans, on paid administrative leave since her Feb. 26 arrest, on Friday at a special meeting, and discussed the allegations against her, according to a news release from Valley.

“The board took no action,” the release stated.

Allegations against Evans include that she charged $75,000 worth of work on her personal residence to the co-op.

In previous interviews with Dick Peck, interim CEO for Valley, it was stated that a private investigator for Valley found no embezzlement by Evans, though the investigator’s report concluded that she may have violated the co-op’s “integrity policy.”

“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,” Peck said in an April 19 report of the Pahrump Valley Times.

In a release on Gazsy’s resignation from Valley, it was stated that “two audits have failed to produce evidence of any illegal or improper activity.”

As of April 29, no charges had been filed on Evans, according to officials at the Pahrump Justice Court.

Court officials also said that Evans had no attorney of record listed on her case on April 29. Attempts by the Pahrump Valley Times to reach Evans have been unsuccessful.

Disagreements

Disagreements over the process of how to remove a member of Valley’s board of directors have heated up over the last several weeks between Members for Change and Valley. An attorney for the co-op presented Valley’s argument that directors must be removed by members by district, where members in one district can’t work to remove a director in another, during the co-op’s special meeting at the end of April—held following Valley’s annual meeting at Pahrump Valley High School.

Using the confines of this argument, 10 percent of the members in a district could go through the process of removing their director.

According to Peck, enough votes were obtained in District 1 to meet the 10 percent requirement to start the process. The next steps in the process would have involved calling a meeting of the members in District 1, where Gazsy would have faced the possibility of removal.

A spokesman for Valley in early May said in an email that co-op attorneys and a lawyer for Members for Change had been discussing the possibility of such a meeting.

According to Michael Hengel, executive vice president of communications and regulatory affairs, Members for Change was just short of meeting the quota to remove David Dawson, board of director for Valley’s District 6.

Valley board officers announced

Valley’s board has several new officers. Each year, Valley’s board elects new officers following the annual meeting. This year’s annual meeting occurred on April 27.

During the special meeting on Friday, Dave Hall, District 2 director for Valley (Amargosa Valley), was elected president for 2019-2020. Hall will replace Rick Johnson, Valley’s District 3 director (Beatty), who was temporarily named president of the board after Derschan’s resignation on May 1.

Derschan has served as president of Valley’s board since May 2018. He was appointed to the board of directors in August 2015 and elected to the District 5 seat in March 2017.

Dave Dawson, Valley’s board member for District 6 (Pahrump north), was elected as vice president for 2019-2020, and Kathleen Keyes, District 4 (Fish Lake Valley), was elected secretary-treasurer for 2019-2020.

In a release from Valley, Hall was noted saying that “the board would follow procedures outlined in the cooperative’s bylaws to fill the vacancies created by the resignations of Derschan and Gazsy. Such vacancies are filled by the vote of a majority of the remaining directors for the unexpired terms of Board members who have resigned.”

District 1 (south Pahrump) and District 5 (Sandy Valley, Mountain Springs and Trout Canyon) members in good standing are eligible for the position. The board is accepting applications for both board seats through May 30, according to Valley’s release.

District 5’s next election by the members in that district will be in March 2020, and District 1’s board seat will be up for election in March 2021, according to Valley’s release.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Small Business Saturday returns in Nye

Nye County will celebrate another year of Small Business Saturday, with Nye County commissioners formally declaring the event in 2019.

 
Nye County commissioner faces charges related to CARES Act

Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo turned himself in to authorities on charges he voted on CARES Act programs while he was benefiting from them.

Angel Trees out in Pahrump community

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Christmas season is officially upon the community, bringing with it the opportunity for residents to help spread a little holiday cheer by participating in the Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree program.

California Lottery

Because of early holiday deadlines at the Pahrump Valley Times, winning lottery numbers for the Wednesday night drawing of the California Super Lotto were not available but will be published in the Wednesday Dec. 2 issue with the results of Saturday night’s Super Lotto.

Turkey divan makes Thanksgiving leftovers divine

One of the best things about the Thanksgiving holiday is enjoying the wonderful leftovers. Now, I don’t know about your post-turkey-day turkey, but mine usually has no legs, or thighs but lots of leftover breast. If that happens to your turkey too, then you’re going to love this week’s recipe, Turkey Divan. We’ve got turkey, broccoli and mushrooms smothered in a cheesy creamy sauce, topped with crunchy, buttery breadcrumbs to make a classic casserole.

Pahrump’s Community Christmas Tree Lighting to be held virtually

The Thanksgiving festivities are at an end and the community is now turning its attention to the Christmas season, which for the town of Pahrump always includes the placement and lighting of the enormous Community Christmas Tree.

COVID surge leads to adjustments in Pahrump Justice Court operations

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to swell in the Silver State, Pahrump Justice Court is taking action now to curb any potential spread of the disease in its courts, which were shut down for two weeks earlier this year after an employee tested positive for the virus.

Murder suspect convicted in jury trial

The man arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of a child more than three years ago, was found guilty following a jury trial this week.