State probes water board

The state plans to conduct a review of a Prospect water district board for possibly violating state law by awarding contracts to a company owned by a board member and failing to post notice of meetings.

The Nye Ditch Users Improvement District's nonprofit corporation was also dissolved by the state for 11 years because the board failed to file the proper paperwork, according to a complaint filed with the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission by seven district customers.

Lissa Davis, a district water user, said she and others filed the complaint against the district board to spur them to comply with state laws.

"I don't expect the board to be fined or dragged over the coals," Davis said. "I just want the commission to make them accountable and wake them up.

"They have the power to foreclose on my farm if I don't pay my bill in full, so I want to see what they do in meetings and know what decisions they make."

Board members who represent about 130 Prospect residents said any violations were inadvertent.

The board defended its decision to award multiple contracts to Express Excavations LLC owned by board member John Maletic.

Most recently, the board awarded Express Excavations a $5,990 contract March 5 to install and repair water lines leaving a Pacific Power dam on the north fork of the Rogue River.

Maletic said he has recused himself from the vote on the contract for which the district received two bids. The other bidder was S & S Earthworks, of Prospect, which made a bid of $8,482.20, according to meeting minutes.

Meeting minutes, however, do not show that Maletic said he owns Express Excavations nor that he abstained from the vote on the contract.

Nye Ditch Board Secretary John Davidson said that during the meeting Board President Lyle Pope disclosed that Maletic owns Express Excavations and would not vote on the contract.

Davidson said he excluded that information from the minutes by mistake and later amended them to reflect what happened.

Public notice of that meeting was not posted in advance of the meeting, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that the board also failed to post notice of a Nye Ditch board meeting convened on Jan. 17.

Pope acknowledged the board had failed to post advance notice of those meetings but said board members were unaware they were mandated to do so until they received a letter March 15 from the Special Districts Association of Oregon notifying them of the requirement.

The association provides technical assistance and research on laws pertaining to special districts.

Pope said the board has acted in good faith.

"All of our meetings now are held openly," Pope said.

Board members said they also did not know their corporation had not been renewed in 1995, as they had continued to file annual audits with the state in subsequent years.

The original district board re-established its corporation in August 2006 and is now recognized by the state.

The next Nye Ditch board meeting is set for 7 p.m. July 31 at Prospect School, 160 Mill Creek Drive in Prospect.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or

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