I am going to shift gears in this column and write about a recent experience that I found encouraging.
I have been serving as Mt. Vernon’s representative on the Rend Lake Conservancy District Board for several years. I was appointed and re-appointed by three different mayors and affirmed by different council groups. The only charter or instruction that I have ever been given is to do what is best for the folks of Mt. Vernon and keep the mayor and council informed of any issues affecting the city. I mention this because I think it exhibits that politics has no place in an operation that is responsible for supplying quality water to approximately 160,000 folks.
For those of you who might not know, the Conservancy District operates a water supplying plant that produces over 20 million gallons a day at peak times of safe drinking water, a golf course with accompanying lodge and condos, a sewage treatment plant and leases additional land for farming. They also lease a restaurant and shooting range. This is approximately a $12 million annual operation with the largest and most important segment being the water supply, of course.
Our board consists of seven members based on a formula that allocates members based on cities and counties in the district. The current allocation is three from Jefferson County and four from Franklin County — two coming from each county and one each from Mt. Vernon, Benton and West Frankfort.
I could write a book about the debates and outright disagreements between the two groups over the years. Some of it is just the result of having strong-willed individuals with strong convictions on the board; frankly some of it has been just plain old mule headed stubbornness from both sides. I do not want to delve into this today because I want to talk about some things that have happened that I consider positive.