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Talladega, Alabama Water Issues

Talladega, Alabama city council and water board look at the big picture

Council members question board's business methods and reasons why areas of the city are without sewer service. Daily Home_ 8/11/04


June, 2004

It's a 3-2 world on the Talladega, Alabama water board: Not even the board's minutes escape the vote split

The rift between the two most recently appointed members of the Water and Sewer Board and the other three, longer serving members seemed to grow at the board's monthly meeting.  Daily Home_ 6/15/04

Talladega, Alabama water board records show pattern of misusing funds
Personnel records of a fired Water and Sewer Board employee show that the 2002 theft she lost her job over was not the first time she had taken money from the board. Pat Borden, the only one of three fired employees to be charged with the theft in 2002, was reprimanded in 1999 for taking $575 two years before that. The missing money was not discovered until an audit in 1999, and board general manager George Montgomery reprimanded her and former board secretary/bookkeeper Cookie Adair in connection with the missing money. Daily Home_ 6/12/04

Talladega, Alabama Daily Home finally gets water board records after nearly two-year fight to make them public

The records provide details on personnel actions against three fired workers as the theft of $90,000 in board funds was uncovered. They show the board fired bookkeeper and secretary Cookie Adair even though she was instrumental in exposing the theft and pointed out lax security procedures. The documents also include Adair's memo questioning the deposit reports of computer operator Pat Borden, who eventually pleaded guilty to theft, saying she stole the money to buy Georgia lottery tickets. The documents, which the board sought to keep from public view, were released to the newspaper after a circuit judge and the Alabama Supreme Court ruled the board is a public agency subject to the state's open-records law.  AP/Freedom Forum First Amendment Center_ 6/10/04


May, 2004
Case closed: Alabama Supreme Court refuses to reconsider its decision that Talladega water board is a public agency subject to state's open records laws
The Supreme Court action came as the final leg of a two-year legal journey through the courts in Alabama over release of public records. The ruling stems from a July 2002 suit filed by Consolidated Publishing, which owns The Daily Home, demanding personnel records relating to the theft of more than $90,000 in board funds. In January, the Alabama Supreme Court unanimously ruled the board was a public entity, and as such, subject to the state's Open Records Act. Talladega Daily Home_ 5/29/04

Talladega, Alabama City Council calls for resignations of 3 water board members to improve city's image
The water board has been a source of controversy since four past members pleaded guilty to various felony charges stemming from actions taken in 1997 and 1998. A federal grand jury currently is investigating willful violations of the Clean Water Act and mail fraud stemming from falsified records. Most recently, the water agency reported it "lost" 1.25 billion gallons of water since October 2000, more than enough to supply New York City's 9 millioin residents for a year. Daily Home_ 5/18/04

Talladega, Alabama can't account for more than 20 percent of its water
The problem has been nearing crisis proportions since December, when 38 percent of all water generated was not accounted for. By January, the figure was up to 45 percent. In February and March, the percentage dropped to 44 percent and 41 percent, respectively. For April, Water and Sewer Board general manager Bill Goheen estimates he can't acccount for 21 percent. The water department soon will install a meter on outgoing water. Daily Home_ 5/12/04

Talladega, Alabama City Councilman Charles Pope joins embattled Water and Sewer Board
In addition to an ongoing legal battle with The Daily Home over access to what the paper contends are public documents, the board is also the subject of a civil class action suit for continuing to pump contaminated water from a well into the city's drinking supply. The same well is also apparently at the center of a criminal investigation spearheaded by the Criminal Investigative Division of the Environmental Protection Agency and the FBI. Talladega Daily Home_ 4/20/04

Alabama House considers state Open Meetings Law changes for water and sewer boards
The new version states explicitly that public utilities such as water and sewer boards are subject to the Open Meetings Law, which, due to a recent Supreme Court ruling, they are currently not. Talladega Daily Home_ 4/10/04

Alabama Department of Environmental Management proposes $22,700 fine for Talladega water board
Despite PCE pollution, a contaminated well was used off and on until May 2003 when its use was ordered halted by state environmental officials. AP/Times Daily_ 4/7/04

Federal grand jury considers Talladega, Alabama water board testimony
A federal grand jury heard more testimony Thursday in its investigation into the operation of the Talladega Water and Sewer Board. The probe is believed to involve the contamination of a city well that was used off and on to pump water to residents since 1995. Daily Home 4/2/04

March, 2004

EPA and  FBI  subpoenas served in Talladega, Alabama water board probe
The subpoenas to appear before a grand jury have been served on Water Board and Sewer Board employees in connection with an investigation into the city's water operation. Officials continued to use a well after the water district learned it was contaminated with PCE. Talladega Daily Home 3/17/04

January, 2004

Alabama Supreme Court rules Talladega water district documents should have been made public. Records relate to theft of $91,000 and the audit that showed how the money was taken. Daily Home 1/18/04

November, 2003

Talladega, Alabama water board employee who embezzled $83,000 in district funds sentenced to 5 years probation. She must pay money back but amount not certain. Funds were used to bet on the Georgia lottery. Daily Home 11/21/03

Head of the troubled Talladega, Alabama water system to retire Jan. 1. District is accused of continuing to provide water from a well after contamination discovered.  AP/Times Daily 11/11/03

October, 2003

Free wheeling Talladega, Alabama water board meeting renews contract of general manager weeks before his scheduled retirement. Citizens demand answers to issues under investigation by FBI and EPA.  Daily Home 10/17/03

Talladega, Alabama water board general manager to retire Nov. 1. FBI and EPA investigating sales of water from contaminated well.  Daily Home 10/15/03

Talladega, Alabama water board delayed notifying public of well contamination. 5th in a series.  Daily Home 10/12/03

Talladega, Alabama paid twice to design a system to clean a PCE-polluted well. Cleaning never done but contaminated water continued to be sold. 3rd in a series.  Daily Home

Audit details how more than $90,000 was stolen from Talladega, Alabama water board. The board fought against making the audit public.  Daily Home

Talladega, Alabama water board holds closed door session with lawyers. Won't disclose topic but FBI and EPA served search warrants last week. District sold water from contaminated well for years.  Daily Home

The Talladega, Alabama water agency sold water from contaminated wells for years. FBI and EPA investigating.  AP/

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