By LEAH STRATMANN
During the meeting last week of the South Walton County Mosquito Control District (SWCMCD) the minutes from the August meeting were finally approved by both board members. Since September, chairman Jim Crawford has been refusing to approve the minutes because of a statement read into the official August minutes by John Magee.
In his statement, Magee objected to the board’s failure to work on developing a contract for SWCMCD director Stephen Sickerman, noting that a contract had been promised and suggesting the lack of a contract might compromise the district’s relationship with the director.
Crawford felt a contract had never been promised and maintains any decision on a contract be delayed until the legal situation with Gary D’Andrea is settled. D’Andrea lost a summary judgment for wrongful termination, and he has appealed the court’s decision.
SWCMCD attorney Lori Bytell drafted the letter for Crawford at his request and when she presented a bill for those services, Magee objected on the grounds that the work was done for Crawford personally, rather than at the request of the board. At that meeting, Crawford offered to pay the expenses from his own pocket, but the generally acrimonious atmosphere resulted in Bytell refusing payment for the service. An addendum to the statement from Crawford stated Bytell should have been paid for services rendered to him. No explanation was made as to why Crawford’s objections were not raised at the time of the statement and his objections read into the record.
Ultimately, the August minutes were approved and the supplemental material provided by Crawford will be attached to the August minutes, with a notation that the documents were introduced at a later date.
The monthly attorney’s report revealed the D’Andrea case should be settled in about six months. Bytell feels the judge’s order will be upheld and said the attorney working on the case has given an estimate of the expenses to be expected.
The SWCMCD is seeking an increase in the number of commissioners from three to five, effective in 2010. Bytell said this request needs a resolution from the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC). If the BCC agrees, they will ask that state legislature to enact a special measure allowing for additional members.
Bytell said she does not know why the governor has not yet named Charlie Burke’s replacement, but expected to hear something by mid-January.
Director Sickerman reported the district is looking to replace two aging trucks and so far has received two faxed quotes. Crawford noted the Chevrolet Silverado trucks are extremely uncomfortable.
“Obviously it’s a buyer’s market and we will be paying cash. By the end of the year the dealers have to pay additional tax on vehicles left in inventory in January. I suggest we put in calls to Ford and Dodge dealerships,” he said. He then made a motion to put a deal together before the end of the year, which was passed.
Magee asked Sickerman to begin assessing equipment on a five-year plan basis so the district can know what they may be facing in terms of needed equipment. “The five-year plan will be updated every year,” Magee said.
Crawford asked for Magee’s help in solving a standing water problem after road construction at the intersection of 13th Street and Churchill Bayou. “The county says the road was built to specs, but the ditches are now flooding the neighbor’s property. The road was paved, a bicycle path put in, and one of the mosquito ditches removed. The people who did not have standing water before have it now and now the water is moving fast enough to sink a car,” Crawford said.
Magee said the district would have to obtain signed complaints from affected homeowners, noting the road started flooding more than a year ago. The district will have to approach the BCC with evidence of the problem and proceed accordingly.
Since the SWCMCD has only two current members, the two men swapped jobs, with Magee becoming chairman and Crawford becoming the SWCMCD secretary.