By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
There are three candidates – Mick Hill, Ken Nelsen and Niki Wiessner – running for the two seats up for election on the Crestline Sanitation board of directors in the Nov. 8 election. The sanitation district became independent when it separated from the county in an election in 2010. All three candidates were asked the same four questions and gave their answers independently. The candidates and their answers are listed alphabetically.
1. Why are you running for this office?
Mick Hill: To reduce the cost of sanitation prices for the residents, which currently are higher than most water bills on the mountain.
Ken Nelsen: I have been working with this board to ensure the community receives a voice in the operation and maintenance of their sanitation district. When the county ran the system, decisions on how the community’s money was being spent were made without much input from the people here in Crestline. During the time, we have been separated from the county, the sanitation district has put together a master plan outlining improvements that are necessary to keep the facilities in compliance with the state’s Water Quality Control Board. We have also improved the district’s financial status, increasing the reserves to help with the funding of capital improvements for the system.
Niki Wiessner: I have participated in helping the district become independent from San Bernardino County Special Districts since 2010. I worked closely with the board to bring awareness to the community about Measure T, to manage its own resources as an independent special district, and the measure passed in August of 2010, with 89 percent community approval. I would like to continue working on behalf of my community to see my neighbors and fellow residents of Crestline are represented.
2. What unique skill set would you bring to this position and how will it benefit the district or the residents of the district?
Mick Hill: I have over 50 years of first-hand experience working with the Crestline Sanitation District as both a customer and as a general contractor, giving me unique insights of its operations.
Ken Nelson: I worked in the water reclamation field for over 35 years. Starting out as a maintenance field employee and moving up into management at a neighboring district. During my career, I was involved with helping out with the design and start-up of treatment facilities including facilities that have brought reclaimed water to the Lake Arrowhead Country Club.
Niki Wiessner: I have worked in the mountain communities the last nine years hosting forums for our local, Ssate and federal representatives, to have a dialog with our mountain residents and to offer solutions dealing with our government. Also, I have been providing updates and information on legislation that affects our area. I am vice president of My Iso Consultants, Inc., a full-service quality management consulting firm, offering documentation, implementation and internal audits for mostly aerospace manufacturers. I believe my relationships within the community and my background in owning a quality management firm brings a unique perspective to the board.
3. What is going well or poorly with the district?
Mick Hill: The current customer rates have increased up to 40 percent over recent years and the board is looking to make another rate increase. My initial focus will be on reducing customer prices.
Ken Nelsen: As I mentioned before, the board has been able to build reserves to help with several improvements that had been deferred for years. We are now in the process of upgrading the Houston Creek plant’s primary treatment system along with the solids handling system. The board working with district staff has been able to secure low-cost loans, through the state, to keep the fiscal impacts on the district and our rate payers to a minimum
Niki Wiessner: The district staff and board have managed and cut costs wherever possible, and have built up healthy reserves over the last 10 years to be able to do much needed major improvements. We are now upgrading the Houston Creek primary treatment system along with the solids system, replacing the old belt press with new computerized screw press technology. The staff and board worked extensively to secure funding through the state revolving loan fund to keep the fiscal impact to rate payers at a minimum. I am pleased to have been a part of approving a robust succession plan for the future of the district. This is a small district; skilled and knowledgeable employees are vital to the day-to-day operations. We have very talented and dedicated people!
4. What would you improve upon or do differently if elected?
Mick Hill: With my knowledge of the existing policies, I will evaluate and educate the board with my first-hand experience versus the advice of outside (off the mountain) consultants who may not understand the unique situations of this district.
Ken Nelsen: I believe the board is in a strong position to improve the disposal of the district’s effluent. As of the present time, the water is just percolated into the groundwater below Lake Silverwood. We (the board) should be looking for opportunities to get credit for treating the water and selling it to help with deferring cost increases in the operations of the district.
Niki Wiessner: If elected I would continue to work with the board and staff of the Crestline Sanitation District in the pursuit of offsetting operating costs by selling our effluent (treated water).
The November election will put two of these candidates onto the Crestline Sanitation District’s board of directors. Be sure to vote this election by either mailing in your ballot, putting it into a ballot depository box at a library by the deadline or go to your local polling location on Tuesday, Nov. 8 and cast a ballot or turn in your mail-in ballot.
Perfect just what I was looking for! .