By Terry Bailey

Phil Murrow, Regional Water Hygiene officer, stopped by the Mitchell County Commissioners meeting Monday morning, August 14, to discuss the question of whether or not it is possible for local governments to select which state guidelines they will observe and which they can ignore. As the Regional Hygiene officer, it is Murrow's duty to ensure all local and state laws are followed in regard to water.
This topic was one in which Murrow had called Commission Chairperson Jim Marshall for guidance. Marshall invited Murrow to come to the Commissioners meeting to discuss it with all three Commissioners at the same time.
The issue came to Murrow's attention when he was called to check on a hand-dug well that had went dry during the week. On weekends some water came back into the well.
Nearby Murrow discovered a 254 foot deep drilled well that provided fifteen gallons of water per minute. This is significantly high producing well. The water was being sold to the windmill electric generating company.
Further research indicated that a previous well had been drilled. A 4,000,000-gallon permit, the largest granted, had been successfully applied for this one well only. Each well, by state law, must have an individual permit. Six months after being drilled this well went dry.
This new well was drilled. A permit was not applied for this new well. Neither was a drilling permit acquired by the well drilling company.
Murrow met with the County Commissioners in that area and broached this breach of legality with them. He was told "we will handle this locally" in such a way to indicate, for the commissioners, the matter was closed, and they had no interest in any further discussion.
Murrow pointed out to the Mitchell County Commissioners the issue in question was a state law, not local.
The Commissioners invited Murrow to attend the September 18 Four County meeting of other counties that are member of the Regional group to discuss possible action to be taken in this situation.
Becky Snook, Communication Director, was present to update the Commissioners on activities in her department. The Commissioners quizzed Snook on the number of conferences attended by her staff, particularly one in Nashville, Tennessee, that was quite expensive. Snook assured the Commissioners that all fees associated with conference attendance were funded by 911 money. No county money was expended. Snook and the Commissioners agreed that in the future any Conferences outside of the area should be discussed with Commissioners first.
Clint Offutt, GPS coordinator, requested a ten-minute Executive Session to discuss salaries. No decisions were made as a result of that closed session.
Marty Hernandez, Superintendent of Public Works, reported to the Commissioners that he needed to purchase a new dump truck. One vehicle in his fleet has a cracked block and he needs to replace it. He said he has adequate funds in his special equipment budget to buy a new truck.
After discussing possible remedies to replace the out-of-service dump truck, the group decided to purchase a refurbished motor for about $25,000 with the understanding that the frame and bed of the old truck are still serviceable.
Having addressed all items on the printed agenda, the meeting was adjourned.


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