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March 12. 2013 11:32PM

Nashua alderman says city ignoring PUC rule

NASHUA - In a heated exchange on Tuesday, Alderman Barbara Pressly publicly alleged that Pennichuck and city officials have been in violation of a previous order by the Public Utilities Commission for more than a year.

Pressly said a representative from the Merrimack Valley Regional Water District should have been appointed to the Pennichuck Corp. board of directors at the time the city acquired the water company in early 2012.

However, the nomination of Tom Gaydos of Pelham was never formally recommended or approved by aldermen as required, in part because he was erroneously deemed ineligible to serve due to his position as the town manager of Pelham.

Pressly said a former agreement with the PUC requires one seat on the Pennichuck board of directors to be filled by a representative of the MVRWD to represent communities other than Nashua.

"The powers that be at the city have totally neglected PUC orders," Pressly said before a meeting of the aldermen on Tuesday. "Twenty to 25 percent of rate-payers live in other towns, and these towns have not been treated fairly for over a year because they have not had representation on the board."

During Tuesday's aldermen meeting, Pressly specifically called out Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and Pennichuck CEO John Patenaude as being negligent for leaving the seat vacant.

"You are out of order, and you are done," Brian McCarthy, president of the Board of Aldermen, abruptly warned Pressly. He went on to scold Pressly for allegedly violating the board's Code of Conduct.

McCarthy acknowledged on Tuesday that after reviewing the Pennichuck bylaws this week, Gaydos was deemed eligible since his town manager position was not an elected role.

"The error has been corrected," McCarthy said, explaining he spoke with Gaydos, who is still willing to serve.

Gaydos' resume and nomination has already been submitted to Pennichuck officials for review, added McCarthy.

Pressly said that while she was pleased the error has been addressed, she suggested further review on the matter to ensure it does not happen again.

"I will call the police department to investigate why the error was made first thing in the morning," McCarthy said, apologizing just seconds after voicing the sarcastic statement once Alderman Mark Cookson described McCarthy's comment as inappropriate.

Aldermen last night voted to recommend the renominations of Jay Lustig, John McGrath and Preston Stanley Jr. to the Pennichuck board of directors, which will be placed on the proxy to be voted on during Pennichuck's first annual meeting later this month.

The nomination of Martha O'Neill, a former Pennichuck director, was ultimately rejected by the Board of Aldermen.

The Pennichuck board of directors recently issued its proxy statement to aldermen in preparation of the upcoming meeting at 9 a.m. on March 23 at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua.

khoughton@newstote.com


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