Yesterday morning at approximately 0527hrs I received a telephone call from IGM Dan Tynan who advised there had been a fire at the Lake Don Pedro Community Services Office on Merced Falls Road. Tynan had been advised by Director Emery Ross who had previously been contacted by a Deputy Sheriff. I do not know the circumstances of that communication. Tynan advised he would have called sooner after arriving on site but communication lines were down at the facility.
Now as I understand the situation, Emery Ross was first notified by a Deputy sometime around 0300hrs where upon he telephoned his neighbor, friend, and fellow director Mark Skoien along with IGM Tynan and possibly other individuals. Ross drove to the facility and took photographs of the emergency response.
EMERGENCY BOARD MEETING AT 1400hrs (2PM)
The agenda simply read: Office Building Fire (15 minutes). Information – To inform Directors of office building fire. As would be expected, contact had been made with a variety of departments and agencies including the Department of Health, SDRMA (Special District Risk Management Authority), state and federal fire and law enforcement officials. The audience was advised that water availability and quality had not been affected and would continue without difficulties with some slight adjustments to times of operation.
Syndie, our Billing/Customer Service Representative, suggested the Board add an agenda item to the emergency meeting to address billing issues that were just getting ready to start. The board ultimately approved rolling over the current billing period to next month due to the total loss of billing computer equipment and software. Syndie stated that although credit card payments could not be taken until replacement of that equipment, customers could still mail or walk in their “estimated” payments for the month. Any resulting over payment would be carried over as a credit for the next month. There will obviously be no late penalties for this month.
The Board conference room will be utilized as the temporary office and essential services such as telephone and internet were being routed there. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and president Kinsella cautioned the audience about rumors and “finger pointing”.
After the emergency meeting I was standing in the parking lot speaking with a former LDPCSD President who asked me why Bill and I received the notification so late after the initial report. Director Emery Ross was returning to the board room so I asked him. Emery still walking by without stopping acknowledged he received a call about the fire from a Sheriff’s Deputy around 0300hrs but when I asked
“Why didn’t you pass it on to the president and vice president?”, he replied
“Call a Closed Session – I’ll let you know.”
Guess I should have known better to ask such a simple question because this all too typical “Ross Response” made no sense other than to refuse to explain the situation. It smacked of the same arrogant refusal to other legitimate questions regarding unethical activities and personal involvement in an unusual meter removal case of a friend. That October 28th, 2011 meeting response consisted of:
“I’ll get back to you some day”.
Naturally, he never responded. Here’s the link to that past blog:
The comment was apparently just another avoidance technique because the subject matter does not fall under the Closed Session parameters of discussion outside the public view. Since Emery Ross was the communication “hub of the wheel” during this obvious emergency, why didn’t he just make a simple call to the board president and advise him that our administrative office was being consumed by fire? He apparently had time to call other people, why not the president of the Board?
I realize Mr. Ross is in full campaign mode as a candidate for Mariposa County District II Supervisor but certainly hope his actions were not motivated with thoughts of securing some sort of publicity as the “on scene CSD official” at the conflagration, becaue after all, it was the 2010-2011 Mariposa Grand Jury that recommended he resign as president of the board based on his prior conduct and behavior.
LOOK! THIS IS MORE IMPORATANT NOW – (we don’t need no stinking investigation)
This horrible situation (administration office fire) has once again derailed investigation into other matters regarding this district’s past operation that still need to be addressed. I drove over to the facility late this morning to snag some photographs of what remains of our administrative office. Naturally the investigation continues. The pungent smell of chemical smoke lingers in my clothing as I type these words and contemplate how and why this major setback to our CSD occurred. I ran for election to be one of your representatives with the honest belief local control of our water system was an indispensable element for this community’s future but must now seriously question whether that is still even possible.
Yes I know, I am depressed about the whole mess. Who wouldn’t be? Look at these photographs and realize what was lost isn’t just about money (which is bad enough), but how it will further damage this community’s reputation — regardless of the final determination of ignition source.
My best to you and yours, Lew