Water board chair questions successor’s qualifications

Published 5:56 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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For the second time in a month, Lowndes County Water Authority Chairperson Orbuty Ozier approached the Lowndes County Commission Monday evening for matters concerning her reinstatement to the position.

However, this week she also brought along Lowndes County Water Authority attorney Prince Chestnut and a revelation regarding her successor to the position and her qualifications.

“My name is Orbuty Ozier, and I come before you tonight in reference to a couple of things that I think need to be heard,” Ozier said at the opening of her address to the commission.

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“So I brought Attorney Prince Chestnut to talk about some information that I think is very important for the county commissioners to here involving responsibilities and what it takes to sit on the board for the Lowndes County Water Authority.”

Chestnut discussed Alabama Code – Section 11-88-6, particularly the first part of the (d) clause, which states that “each director elected by a county governing body shall be a duly qualified elector of that county and shall be a resident of and the owner of real property in that part of the service area of the authority which lies within that county.”

The stipulation of owning land must be met, alongside the candidate being a registered voter and a resident of Lowndes County.

Chestnut added that in the event that a candidate was deemed unqualified, the current chairperson would continue to serve until a new person who is qualified is selected.

“That’s just something that I wanted to make sure everybody understood, because in order for us to move forward, we will have to have a person there who is actually qualified,” Chestnut said.

“It would put in jeopardy the loans, debts and obligations that will have, which is somewhere around $1.5 million right now.  We were able to get a grant for most of that, but we do have some short-term debt.”

County Attorney Hank Sanders was absent from Monday night’s meeting, but added that Ozier’s initial statement of being terminated from the board was incorrect.

“When someone’s term runs out, they’re not terminated,” Sanders said.

“The commission will make certain that all criteria are met for anybody who is appointed.  I wasn’t there last night, and I’m not familiar with the situation, but whatever the criteria for them to be appointed, we’ll make certain that they’ll meet those criteria.”