Thrall Gets Nod from Lamar Utility Board

LUB Doug Thrall (2)

Lamar Utility Board in Session

Lamar businessman, Doug Thrall, received a unanimous vote of recommendation to become a board member from the Lamar Utilities Board, during their Tuesday, September 9 meeting.  The recommendation will be forwarded to the Lamar City Council for action during their September 29 meeting.

Thrall appeared before the board to answer questions regarding a potential conflict of interest if he served.  Thrall, several other electricity consumers, the LUB and City of Lamar has a lawsuit filed against ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority in County District Court several weeks ago.

Board President, Mike Bryant, asked how Thrall would deal with any conflicts when the board went into executive session to discuss some sections of the lawsuit.  “I would just excuse myself from the meeting,” he replied.  Earlier, Thrall stated that the legal action against ARPA and construction bond insuring company, Syncora, was taken on behalf of every electric customer in the city.  “The board, the City of Lamar, those businesses that initiated the action, we’re all in this together,” he said at the outset.

LUB attorney, John Lefferdink, provided the board with copies of state statues and the city home rule charter defining and regulating various aspects of conflicts of interest.  Lefferdink said the general procedure is that a person who believes they may have a conflict, state its nature and excuse themselves from the pertinent portion of the meeting.  The individual is also obligated not to try to influence a decision by other council or board members.  “I don’t see anything in the statutes that would prove to be a problem with Doug Thrall’s lawsuit if he excuses himself from a portion of the meeting,” Lefferdink said, adding that the final decision will be up to the city council, based on the board’s recommendation.

City Attorney, Garth Nieschburg, said he didn’t feel there would be any legal repercussions from ARPA or Syncora’s lawsuit with Thrall as a board member, stating that he and Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh, are ARPA board members and represent the Lamar Utility Board and City of Lamar, and both excuse themselves from any ARPA executive sessions that deal with the lawsuit.

Thrall added, “I’m a businessman, we have a several million dollar investment in the city, it’s to our benefit to make the city grow and LUB and the City of Lamar is part of that economic development.  I feel that the more we can be involved in that development, the better it will be for the city and county and for all of us that are businessmen here.  I take it personally.”

Superintendent Hourieh said the T-2 wind turbine was offline because of a failed gearbox on August 11 which has since been repaired.  However is down again, because of a failed contact on one of the three axis’s used by the breaking system.  T-3 went down because parts were needed for the breaking system which was installed on August 27.  “There were couplings between the oil pump and the motor had not been set properly from the factory and it failed on us,” he added.  The Light Plant is using a loaner from Colorado Green until a part arrives.

The next LUB meeting will be Tuesday, September 23.  Because the Lamar City Council pushed their meeting back until September 29, the council cannot take action on Thrall’s membership to the board.  He will be able to attend the meeting on the 23rd, but not as a member and will not be able to attend any scheduled executive sessions.

By Russ Baldwin

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