By NATHAN GREGORY
Seven water associations in Oktibbeha County were listed in a report by Mississippi Public Service Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley as not having submitted their corporate bylaws to the public service commission. The deadline to have bylaws submitted is Friday at 5 p.m. Presley said all associations which fail to meet the deadline will face subpoenas.
The list includes the water associations of Adaton, Blackjack, New Light, Talking Warrior, Morill Road, Trim Cane and Longview. Adaton Water Association President Doss Brodnax said he submitted the bylaws Tuesday, and Trim Cane Water Association President Mildred Wade said she would submit them today. Morrill Road President George Bennett said his association would let Presley and the Mississippi Rural Water Association settle a disagreement on jurisdiction over when or whether the bylaws need to be sent before taking whichever action necessary.
Calls to the other water associations were not returned as of press time.
Presley said the deadline for submitting the bylaws was originally Jan. 20, but he extended the deadline because more than 90 water associations in the northern portion of the state had not sent in the necessary information.
He said the purpose for setting the deadlines and getting the bylaws was to make sure all water associations are in accordance with the Mississippi Non-Profit Corporation Act, which defines how the associations are governed.
“We’re simply conducting a review of these bylaws to make sure they’re in compliance with state law,” Presley said.
The associations have also received notification from MRWA stating they did not have to submit the bylaws, information Presley says is inaccurate.
“Mississippi Rural Water Association is 100 percent wrong, and they’re giving out lousy legal advice. What they have done is put these 90-plus associations in a legal jam,” he said. “Number one, I didn’t know (MRWA) had gotten into the legal advice business until this week. Number two, if the associations rely on this advice our next action is to seek subpoenas and go to court if need be. The question somebody needs to ask (MRWA) is why they are telling the associations not to turn over the documents. What are they so worried about?”
Bennett said Morrill Road Water Association, which only serves 13 customers and employs one person, would wait for Presley and MRWA to settle confusion over the matter before submitting information.
“We received a letter from Presley and also received a letter from (MRWA). We’re going to let (MRWA) and Presley fight it out and see what happens,” Bennett said. “We have all the bylaws ... and financial records from the beginning. Everybody makes financial reports to the Secretary of State every year, so it’s not clear ... how Presley gets involved in it. If somebody demands what we have we can certainly give it to them. (To me) it was interesting that (MRWA) was giving Presley a hard time, and I’m not sure what all this means. We’re small potatoes ... and we’re not going to make a big deal of it unless we have to. We can do whatever they want us to do.”
Wade said she is in the process of submitting the bylaws and will be sure to have them in before Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline, while Brodnax said the bylaws for his water association have been sent.
“I hadn’t gotten a notice until less than a couple of weeks ago,” Wade said. “As I remember there was a letter but it didn’t have anything threatening.”
“When I got the release, I didn’t understand (the timing), but we’ve sent in the information (Presley) asked for,” Brodnax said.