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PUC sets water company deadline

By John Bowler
   CRR Correspondent
   The Crooked River Ranch Water Co. has until April 8 to comply with a new order from the Oregon Public Utilities Commission.
   On March 28, Oregon PUC Judge Michael Grant ordered the CRRWC to comply with the PUC's previous order of March 24 requiring disclosure of the special assessment fund balance in two days and compliance with other provisions within 15 days.
   CRRWC disclosed March 26 that it has $233,889 on hand, albeit in several different banks, from the contended special assessment fund instead of $118,028 as staff PUC calculated.
   No explanation was given by CRRWC as to why these funds were not disclosed earlier as ordered. Instead CRRWC requested delay of PUC's order to distribute remaining special assessment funds to its customers because it would leave their financial cupboard bare to cope with any emergency funding needs.
   Grant consented to CRRWC's request until the situation can be reviewed, but required that the water company comply with other provisions of its March 24 order by April 8.
   The judge also raised the question of manager J.R. Rooks' position with the CRRWC because of its report of "no contractual relationship" with him.
   He went on to say that unless the company declares Rooks' status as an employee by April 8, Rooks will not be considered by PUC as qualified to speak or act on behalf of CRRWC after that date.
   Another twist in the meandering saga between PUC and CRRWC -- a year old this month -- is a copy of a letter which surfaced last week, dated March 26, purportedly written to "selected" CRRWC customers over Rooks' signature block.
   In it, Rooks railed against PUC's "fraudulent ... unethical and sometimes illegal" regulation of CRRWC and urged members to protest it by calling the PUC number listed "if you have clean abundant water with adequate pressure."
   The CRRWC customer who provided the copy observed, "I see this letter as a last grasping at straws by JR." The letter was not posted on CRRWC's Web site (www.crrwc.com) which had been closed.
   According to the Web site host's spokesperson, who answered the posted telephone number, the site was closed in February "because payment was rejected by the site owner's credit card, and follow-up to the cardholder was unproductive."
   Complete texts of last week's communications between PUC and CRRWC can be viewed at http://apps.puc.state.or.us/edockets/docket.asp?DocketID=14033.
   CRR reps added
   George Trahern, CRR Association treasurer, and Lexus Johnson, a former CRR County Budget Committee member, were both appointed to serve out Kitty Pullen's remaining one-year term on the committee according to Kathie Rohde, county accounting manager.
   Pullen passed away in February. Trahern will be the voting member and Johnson, an alternate.
   Library cards available
   Deschutes County Library cards issued to Ranch residents not living within the Jefferson County Library District's current boundaries expired March 31.
   Ranchers with those cards can obtain new Jefferson County Library cards or have the cards issued to them earlier this year by the Redmond Library revalidated at the Jefferson County Library in Madras.
   To do this, each person in a CRR household desiring a card must go to the Madras library, with identification, and pay $45 per household to receive a nonresident Jefferson County Library card good for one year.
   A single $45 payment qualifies all members of a household to receive a library card, which gives new cardholders access to the services of the Deschutes Library District as well as the Jefferson County Library.
   Call 475-3351 if you have questions.