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2014-03-20

River authority to open annex in Medina Lake

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Directors of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District unanimously approved establishing a part-time district annex at Medina Lake.
General Manager David Mauk broached the subject at the board meeting on Wednesday, March 12. "We're facing an emergency situation at the lake that has a lot of concerns and enquiries," he told the board. "The lake is dry, wells are going dry and there has been mismanagement of the lake bottom." While the City of Bandera is the county seat, the Medina Lake area with its 5,000-plus residents is undeniably the most populous portion of the county.
To alleviate the situation, Mauk found an office that could be rented for $300 a month. The one-year rental lease would also include Internet hook-ups, electricity, trash collection and water service. "This would be a good thing for the district and show that we're concerned about the plight in that area of the county," Mauk said. Richard Mosty, attorney for the river authority, has already given a thumb's up to the contract.
Mauk indicated that once the annex is up and running, hours of regular operation would probably be on the first and third Thursdays of each month and by appointment. "When the office is not staffed, calls would be forwarded to district headquarters on FM 3240," he said, adding that hours of operation would be increased as needed.
BCRAGD employees and Mauk would alternate staffing the Medina Lake Annex. "This will go a long way for the community," Mauk said. There was no opposition to the motion to open the Medina Lake Annex.
In other business, BCRAGD directors also approved hiring a part-time intergovernmental-community relations coordinator, who would work on regional water management strategies, Desired Future Conditions (DFC) compliance, grant applications and other legal issues. Previously, Sarah Rountree Schlessinger had been involved with water projects in Haiti. Now living in the Texas, she had expressed a desire to work on water issues in the Hill County, and Mauk immediately took her up on her offer.
According to Mauk, Schlessinger holds dual American-Swiss citizenship and speaks five languages. "We won't have her for very long once people realize what we've got," he said. "But while we have her, she can mentor our other employees." According to Mauk, the temporary position would end by Oct. 1 - unless he can persuade Schlessinger to stay longer.
She will be hired for 20 hours a week at $18 per hour. Funds are available in the BCRAGD budget for the new position.
"We can start now and hopefully have something done by next year," said Director Karen Ripley.
"Hire her," advised Director Jerry Sides - and, without further ado, Schlessinger was.
In a related matter, Kayla Rohrbach was promoted to aquatic biologist. As a field operations team leader, her areas of expertise include watershed protection, aquifer science, education and community outreach and regulatory compliance.