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Flathead irrigation district should be broken into smaller districts

Editor,

Two local papers carried articles on the FJBC dissolving. The articles stated $1 million was spent on legals and lawsuits. Approximately $350,000 of that was spent on the FERC appeal, which incidentally the Flathead District Board (FDB) voted with a majority to support. Since approximately 1984 the FDB has had control of the FJBC and under their leadership a lawyer was employed and at his termination he was being paid $12,000 per month, along with an advisor who received approximately $700,000 during his employment. During their leadership and with the advice of their legal counsel things that should have been done were ignored or just not done and kicked onto the next board. Many of these issues are having to be dealt with now. The FJBC is not under investigation. An ex-employee is. If proven, the charge is embezzlement not misappropriation of funds. The FJBC did act when credible evidence was produced and have aided in the investigation. They have filed a claim with the insurance company to help recoup revenues. Guenzler claims maintenance, instead of attorney and lawsuits is needed. Is the FDB giving up on the irrigators’ rights and their defense of them? If not, then the FDB will have to employee an attorney. In the short run nothing will probably change but future increases will be paid by the Flathead District irrigators. Legals, pumping plant ($300,000-$400,000), BIA increase ($4 in 2018), future lawsuits and the FDB will no longer be able to place blame on the Mission/Jocko but will have to explain these increases themselves. The FDB, made up of handpicked and family of one individual, who apparently represents the minority of land owners with the majority of land, thus rendering the south end of the FD without a voice. The unequal power advantage of the FD needs to change. Allow each division to elect their representatives or break the FD into Camas, Pablo/Ronan North and Pablo/Ronan South. Breaking it into more equal acreage districts would create a larger board but would ensure accurate representation and would remove the domineering stance of the current FD.

Wade Shepard
Charlo

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