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    Vacancies filled on VEA's board of directors


    June 6, 2019 - Jeffrey Meehan Pahrump Valley Times

     

      The vacancies on Valley Electric Association Inc.'s board were filled this week.

      Valley's board of directors selected Michelle Caird, of Pahrump, for the co-op's vacant board seat in District 1, with Terrie D'Antonio being named to the cooperative's vacant District 5 seat (Sandy Valley), Dave Hall, Valley's board president, announced in a news release on Tuesday.

      Hall noted the lengthy nonprofit experience of both applicants "as significant factors in naming them to the board" in Valley's news release.

      Caird was a board member of Inland Power and Light Co. in eastern Washington for 18 years, and D'Antonio recently retired after serving 13 years as president and CEO of HELP Southern Nevada, according to the Pahrump-based co-op.

      Caird was the first female president in Inland Power's 73-year history, according to Valley. Caird serves as chairwoman of the Pahrump Valley Public Transportation Committee and also serves on the board of directors for other local organizations, including the Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce's board of directors.

      "D'Antonio previously served as the director of marketing for the Las Vegas Water District," Valley's release stated. "She also served as chief of recreation for the City of Las Vegas and as director of resident services for the Department of Housing and Urban Development."

      Both D'Antonio and Caird were appointed to the board seats by a unanimous vote of the board, according to Valley. Both of the new appointees are expected to be at the next board meeting, scheduled for June 26.

      Both seats became vacant in early May after the resignation of Peter Gazsy (District 1) and then-board president Ken Derschan (District 5).

      Derschan stated that he was resigning for personal reasons with Gazsy stating that he was resigning due to a "pending recall" in his district, according to a May 4 release from Valley.

      Per Valley Electric's bylaws, the seats are filled by appointment by the remaining board members. Applications for both positions were accepted through May 30, according to Valley.

      The board chose Caird out of a pool of 22 applicants for the District 1 seat. A pool of four candidates applied to the District 5 seat.

      "A phenomenal number of candidates applied, which was impressive," said Hall in a release from Valley. "There were many well-qualified people."

      Valley's board shakeups

      Gazsy and Derschan were both 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. The group launched its petition-signing drive in February over rising rates for residential electricity and broadband customers of the co-op.

      Hundreds of members came out to sign the petition to remove several of Valley's directors. That effort was increased with later announcements of an alleged financial cover-up at the co-op.

      Allegations by the Nye County Sheriff's Office include 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.

      Members for Change reached its goal of signatures earlier in 2019, but the group has been in a battle with Valley over the interpretation of the co-op's bylaws on how to remove a board of director.

      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.

      The board members that were targeted by the original petition still active on the co-op's board are Dave Dawson (District 6, north Pahrump); Richard Johnson (District 3, Beatty); and Hall.

      According to the Members for Change Facebook page, it is actively seeking more signatures to remove Dawson.

      Valley will hold regular elections for the District 5 seat in March 2020. The District 1 seat will be up for election in March 2021.

      Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

      Valley announces new committees

      Valley Electric Association Inc. is working to bring together four new committees.

      Valley's board of directors "approved the creation of four new member committees at its April 2019 board meeting," according to a June 4 news release from the co-op. "All four committees (finance, policy, member liaison and charitable foundation) are expected to improve communication, transparency and accountability among the VEA membership, board and the cooperative's staff."

      "The four committees will consist of two board members and co-op members (or spouses of members) from each district and each will meet quarterly beginning probably in July," the Valley release stated.

      A Valley board member will chair each committee, according to the co-op.

      The new committees will replace the VEA Ambassador Program-in place for about a decade.

      The purpose of the new structure of having committees in place is to "help re-engage our board with our members," Hall said in Valley's release. "We want to refocus our efforts inward, on our members and our communities that we serve, and being open and transparent in our communication."

      Expenses for committee member's travel expenses will be covered by the co-op for those who have to travel to Pahrump for meetings, Valley's Interim Chief Executive Dick Peck was noted saying in Valley's news release. For committee members looking to serve but unable to travel, remote video access will be set up for those in outlying communities, according to the release.

      In Valley's release, Peck stated that the co-op will take applications for its four committees in June.

      Applications can be submitted online at vea.coop

      Decisions on committee membership are set to be made by Valley's board of directors by the end of June.

      "Terms of membership on committees are expected to be decided by the board by the end of 2019," according to Valley's release.

      - Jeffrey Meehan, Pahrump Valley Times

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