Scotts Run Pillaged – Part Three






About fifteen years ago, Scotts Run Public Service District (SRPSD) was created by concerned residents of the Scotts Run watershed to provide municipal sewerage services to the people of Scotts Run, who had long resorted to costly and unreliable individual efforts. The nearby Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) had refused to extend its municipal services to the Scotts Run area, so the SRPSD was formed to provide services where MUB would not.

When the Scotts Run Board (appointed by the Monongalia County Commission) would extend a new sewer or water line to a particular area of Scotts Run, all the residences near the line were required to hook up to it, presumably for economic and health reasons. Some individuals, a minority, opposed hooking up – presumably because they could afford individualized services, such as cesspools, that they preferred. For the majority of residents, and for the area in general, the municipal line was both preferred and needed. However, some residents remained opposed to these community building efforts of the Scotts Run PSD.

How To Destroy A Public Entity In Five Easy Steps

  1. During the past year or so, shortly before his retirement from the Monongalia County Commission, Asel Kennedy (who lives near the Scotts Run area) led the effort of stacking the governing board of the SRPSD with individuals who opposed the PSD.
  2. The Monongalia County Commission filled three of the five SRPSD board seats with individuals opposed to the operation and continued existence of the SRPSD: Joe Tennant, John Morris, Virgil Coulter. The remaining two SRPSD board seats were left unfilled by the county commission.
  3. The new SRPSD board moved swiftly to dissolve the SRPSD by the spring of 2013, in terminating the SRPSD employees and requesting that MUB “take over” the SRPSD.
  4. MUB officials, under protection of the Monongalia County Sheriff’s department, physically took over the office and garage and infrastructure of SRPSD.
  5. The collaborating Monongalia County Commission and the rubber-stamping Morgantown City Council voted to approve the MUB “take over” of the SRPSD, pending the expected state Public Service Commission (PSC) approval. The PSC had been quietly contacted by local officials months prior to the local “take over.”

The good ol’ boy network strikes again. See related details of the Scotts Run PSD takeover below in the very informative and insightful letters to the Dominion Post editor by Larry Taylor and Jill Ware: “Protest against closure, acquisition of area PSD” and “No compelling reason to merge PSD with MUB”.

On June 30, 2013, the Dominion Post published a very revealing and very petty and ludicrous letter by SRPSD board member Joe Tennant who – in responding to Jill Ware’s June 22 letter to the editor – notes that he and the other two SRPSD board members did not sell the SRPSD. He is correct. However, the reality is much worse than a sale of the SRPSD. Joe Tennant and the rest of the SRPSD board simply gave away the millions of dollars worth of SRPSD assets, along with the entire SRPSD customer base, to MUB. And they got nothing in return for the residents of Scotts Run. They just gave away a public entity that had millions of dollars more assets than liabilities. And not only did they get nothing for the Scotts Run residents by requesting the MUB “take over,” they gave up the best opportunity for many additional residents of Scotts Run to be hooked up to municipal sewer, since PSDs are eligible for grants and funding for which city utilities like MUB do not qualify. Thus, in noting that the SRPSD was not sold, board member Tennant makes plain something much worse: that the SRPSD was given away for nothing.

Ludicrously, Tennant implies that there are secret facts known only to the SRPSD board and to the County Commission that justify the dissolving of the SRPSD and its “take over” by MUB. The good ol’ boys know more and better, you see, they know secret things not known to the public. Trust us, blindly, you can trust us, they would have the public believe. What a joke. These are public issues. These are public entities. Such public actions could and should only be made for public reasons, in public venues, with a lot of public involvement. Tennant’s swiping at Jill Ware continues petty and spiteful to its pathetic end, and is included below for public amusement.

Meanwhile, the petty, spiteful, and vindictive maneuvering against Jill Ware continues in another form. The petite mother of three has been arrested for supposedly poking SRPSD board member Virgil Coulter at an SRPSD meeting in Morgantown City Council chambers.

The scandal that is the SRPSD dissolution and take over stinks high and wide. The stench is most concentrated with the SRPSD board and the Monongalia County Commission. However the Morgantown City Council and the Morgantown Utility Board both smell bad in this as well, going so readily along and allowing the take over. Meanwhile, we in the public don’t come off so well ourselves, having been utterly asleep, allowing the good ol’ boy network to operate at will, to the public’s detriment.

Protest against closure, acquisition of area PSD

by Larry Taylor – June 22, 2013 Dominion Post

Recently, information was acquired by way of the Freedom of a Information Act request. In this information, I found out that emails were being sent back and forth from Scotts Run Public Service District (PSD) board member, Joe Tennant, and Morgantown Utility Board general manager, Tim Ball.

I was surprised, to find out that these emails dated back to Jan. 7 and more surprised that a reference to spending time in a foxhole ended with a smiley face. It is evident, from the contents of these emails, that the conspiracy went deeper than originally expected.

Prior to being appointed as a board member, Joe Tennant fought against the Scott’s Run PSD; he publicly screamed foul against the Scotts Run PSD and posted signs on his property, indicating his distaste for public sewage in the W.Va. 100 area. We all know that sewage did not take place in the W.Va. 100 area.

One could only conclude that his revenge did not stop there. All he needed was a position on the Scotts Run PSD board, along with co-conspirers, he could have one final war with the Scotts Run PSD.

He and his fellow board members would conspire and make false accusations in order to devise a plan for the takeover by MUB.

The meetings that took place in the foxholes ended on May 15. We all know what took place on that day. (MUB took control of the PSD’s office and operations).

This plan was executed within three months of the third co-conspirator being placed on the board in February 2013.

No compelling reason to merge PSD with MUB

by Jill Ware – June 26, 2013

Joseph Tennant, in a letter to the editor (DP-June 2), posed this: “The question now is not whether to support this resolution which was voted upon and passed by the appointed board of the Scotts Run Public Service District (PSD), but why others are choosing to oppose it.” The resolution was a decision to merge the Scott’s Run PSD with the Morgantown Utility Board (MUB).

More than 60 people, who have signed a petition against the merger in the Scott’s Run area, are asking the question, “Why would a board of directors give away a fully functional public entity, one they were appointed to manage for the benefit of the people it serves?”

In addition, “Why would the County Commission appoint to a PSD board two people who oppose the construction of sewage infrastructure, and one who doesn’t even live in the district?”

And, “Why would the County Commission, upon learning of the mistaken appointment of a non-resident to the board, ignore their mistake and pass an illegally contracted agreement onto the Public Service Commission for its consideration?”

The competence of MUB is not in question. What is in question is the competence of board members who sold a PSD, and the benevolence of a government body that is allowing, nay, forcing the sale to become legitimate, outside and contrary to West Virginia state law.

The arguments Tennant gave for the shutdown of the PSD included his inability to run a board meeting without law enforcement, unheard of before he came on the board; state fire-code remodeling; updates to the pump station at University Town Centre; questions of financial records; and management of future expansion in the Granville-Chaplin Hill area.

The minutes of board meetings before and after Tennant’s accession to the Scotts Run PSD board reveal that all of the management issues were part of the normal flow of business before he arrived and were being dealt with in good order.

Agreements and grants were being negotiated in timely order for the expansion of the PSD’s infrastructure to meet the needs both of the new developments, and equally important, to continue the infrastructure development in outreach to the least well served in outlying areas.

An investigation of all the financial reports available, from three separate accounting firms, reveals a strong history of absolutely straightforward accounting and management of cash flow, grant-funding, bonds issued and repaid, and a fully functioning reasonably paid staff.

In fact, all the documents that have been revealed show that Tennant’s story of the PSD’s failure is false and misleading. If there are any documents which would convince us otherwise, they have not been revealed.

Presently, we have the opinions of three men, whose interests as evidenced by their behavior clearly indicate a lack of interest in the purpose of the PSD: To supply sewerage to the residents of Scotts Run.

I challenge board members Joseph Tennant, John Morris, and Virgil Coulter, and County Commissioners Bill Bartolo and Eldon Callen, to come up with evidence for a compelling reason for the sale and confiscation of Scotts Run PSD property, or to return that property and allow the PSD to get on with the business of building infrastructure and supplying service to the Scott’s Run area.

No one has profited from PSD-MUB merger 

by Joe Tennant – June 30, 2013

This is in response to Jill Ware ’s letter to the editor (DP-June 22): There was no sale of the Scotts Run Public Service District (PSD), which she incorrectly mentioned twice.

No one has made any kind of profit from the Scotts Run PSD-Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) merger. MUB did receive the PSD’s assets, and the responsibility of serving the that PSD’s customers: That’s all.

While correcting this is the main reason I have responded to her letter, it should also be stated that the rosy picture Ware paints of the Scotts Run PSD before my tenure as a duly appointed board member of that PSC is a matter of sharply divided opinion.

The Monongalia County Commission was supplied with specific facts that Ware does not seem to have seen, perhaps because some of this information is sensitive in nature, and she is not a Scotts Run PSD board member, nor even a Scotts Run PSD customer.

I do agree with one of her statements: “The competence of MUB is not in question.” Since it is not a concern that our toilets will flush, nor that future billing will be fair, let’s move on.

If Ware has concerns with her sewage service, perhaps she should focus on the failings of her own service’s provider.

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