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Two members quit Admirals Cove water board

Never a dull moment in Admirals Cove Water District, which witnessed on Friday the sudden resignation of two commissioners after a heated and often contentious election that involved, among other things, a special state audit of commissioners’ pay vouchers.

Both Lana Wallace and Howard Duncan resigned their board positions in letters presented Friday afternoon to the Island County board of commissioners by the district’s acting attorney, Joan McPherson.

Duncan recently lost his seat to challenger Sid Iverson, while Wallace would have held her commissioner chair through 2005. No replacement for Wallace has yet been found.

The remaining Admirals Cove commissioner, Adel Saba, who fended off challenger Michael Shannon in the recent election, went before the Island County Commissioners on Monday and requested that commissioner-elect Sid Iverson be installed immediately so the water district could carry on with the business of approving current vouchers. The board granted Saba’s request.

“We couldn’t do any business,” Saba said of the effects of the dual resignation in an interview on Tuesday. He added that he hasn’t spoken with either Duncan or Wallace, and that he was first notified of their resignations by the district’s accountant Terri Campbell in a phone message left at his home on Friday afternoon.

Wallace, contacted by the News-Times on Tuesday morning, refused to comment on any aspect of her resignation, and Duncan did not immediately return our phone call.

Saba said that he didn’t expect Wallace to resign so suddenly. “I figured that she was going to hang on and maybe resign later,” he said, adding that he thought Duncan would at least finish out his term through the end of the month.

“There’s hard feelings going around,” said Saba of the turmoil surrounding the water district, controversies which included accusations by Wallace of political inaction on Saba’s part as well as falsification of payment vouchers during the election race. A state audit by auditor Nestor Newman did reveal that Saba had $800 in “questionable charges” on his pay vouchers, but that the district also owed him $940 in unpaid wages as well.

The audit also found Wallace to have one incorrect charge amounting to $2.50, while Duncan tallied $15.05 in questionable charges but was also underpaid by the district to the tune of $90.

The special audit, which was requested by all three Admirals Cove commissioners, carried no enforcement recommendations, and was intended solely for use by the Admirals Cove Water District’s elected officials.

Saba could only guess at the reasons behind Wallace’s resignation. He said that Wallace, as an acting commissioner, “wanted total control and knew she couldn’t have total control” of the water district, and that “that’s why she wanted out.”

Be that as it may, Wallace’s departure now leaves Saba in the position of filling one more commissioners seat by appointment within the next 90 days. He said he has nobody specific in mind and simply wants to get the word out to prospective candidates throughout the district.

Until then, he and Iverson will be in charge of the water district’s business, which Saba called the primary responsibility of acting commissioners.

“I’m sure things will get back to normal,” said Saba of the recent travails in the district. “I’m just glad that it’s over with. There should be no more friction.”

He added, however, that “it’ll probably take a couple of months to get things straightened out.”

A special meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 7 at the Admirals Cove pumphouse in order to approve current vouchers, said Saba. Iverson, who goes in for hip surgery the following week, plans to attend.

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