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Three new members take seats at Indian Hills General Improvement District

Christy Chalmers, Staff writer

With three new members in place, the Indian Hills General Improvement District board has resumed the business that preceded a recall election and months of acrimony.

The board unanimously selected Dianne Humble Fournier and Rhonda Pascoe Tuesday to replace trustees Renee Haskell and Joanne Riekenberg, who were recalled in July. The two new trustees joined Dan Hall, a replacement for Dick Fairfax, who resigned rather than face a recall.

The five then decided to reconsider a pay raise for district manager Jim Bentley, reverse several personnel policies imposed in May and consider finishing preliminary plans for a community center and office complex.

“They’ve gotten more done in two hours than the last six months,” remarked one audience member during a break later in evening.

Fournier’s work experience includes office management, more than 18 years as a flight attendant and certification as a drug and alcohol counselor. Pascoe formerly worked for the GID as an administrative assistant from 1993 to 1999 and also was a financial clerk for Harrah’s Tahoe and Caesar’s Tahoe. She currently works as a bookkeeper for Kohn Colodny, an accounting firm.

“Rhonda probably has the best handle on the issues,” said board chairman Steve Weaver. “I like some of the background Dianne can offer.”

Pascoe was one of five residents who led the effort to recall Riekenberg and Haskell. She is also running for one of the two four-year terms, along with incumbent Ron Kruse and Haskell, that will be open at the end of this year.

The appointments made Tuesday are good only through December. While Pascoe is filling a seat that expires in December, Hall and Fournier will have to petition to be elected to finish the other terms, which expire in 2002.

They said they already have their petitions done. Each had to collect 10 signatures to be included on the November ballot.

With a full complement of trustees, the GID board wasted no time addressing issues that had severely divided the previous administration.

The board reversed several personnel policies that were approved in May. Weaver characterized the policies as “damaging” and “pointless” and said they were an effort to punish employees who had sought representation with the Teamsters Union.

The action also gave district manager Bentley consent to find a new water system operator to replace one who resigned.

Bentley was also a topic of discussion as the board reconsidered an annual pay raise that was previously denied.

The three former board members had criticized Bentley and refused to authorize a raise. Weaver and trustee Ron Kruse said they were satisfied with Bentley’s performance, and Weaver suggested a $2,000 pay raise for Bentley, who now makes $60,366 a year.

Bentley asked the board to expunge the comments made by the departed trustees from his file, adding that if the positive remarks by Weaver and Kruse are then considered, his contract calls for a 5 percent raise.

Weaver said 5 percent equals $3,018 a year. The board decided to reconsider the issue at its next meeting.

The board also wants to complete preliminary planning and architectural work for a community center and office complex that has been considered at James Lee Park.

Indian Hills voters will be asked for their opinion on building the facility, but the board members said they think the preliminary work might as well be finished so if voters approve the project, construction can start.

“I am confident my surveys will be borne out within plus or minus 5 percent in November,” said Weaver, citing earlier, unscientific surveys that showed a majority of residents support the concept.

The community center work was previously suspended, and the recall supporters accused the now-departed trustees of defying residents’ wishes. The trustees said they were worried about the cost of project and whether the district could afford it.