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New Billings Heights water board members pleased after visit to district office

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Posted at 10:40 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 00:40:02-04

There is still some confusion about who is on the Billings Heights water district board.

Five trustees - three who were recently elected and two appointees- say they're on the board. But the three who lost the election this spring say they're in until May 31.

Five board members had enough for a quorum and held a meeting on Wednesday night after a sign on the door stated it was temporarily postponed.

They asked why on Thursday and found out the postponement had to do with a temporary restraining order, granted by a Yellowstone County district court judge, that stated the district could not prevent the three elected and two appointed trustees from being on the board.

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"We were told that they were given notice, late in the day that the TRO had come through and that at that point, a decision was made," said newly elected board member Laura Dreger, "and we were told that it was made by the acting board chair."

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KTVQ photo

Three newly elected and sworn in trustees along with one appointed by the city, and one appointed by the county say Judge Michael Moses ruling makes clear they are on the board.

The judge will hear the case on May 27.

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KTVQ photo

"We five are currently seated," said Pam Ellis, who was appointed by the county in 2021. "Nothing changes on May 27. Of the three elected ones, there's a different interpretation of the statute, about who gets to appoint, if a county and city appointee resigned near term."

And the board members visited the County Water District of Billings Heights office.

"Our number one priority is making sure that the heights water district ratepayers have water," Drager said. "And that our employees are safe and that the drinking water is safe."

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KTVQ photo

"Absolutely. I felt like I was a board member," board member Ming Cabrera said about his visit to the water office. "Some of the things we asked for, one is make sure they didn't destroy documents. They're not going to do that. They recognize that we are going to follow open meeting laws. So we're going to make sure that the agendas are out on time. And that we get everything there at the same time. So my impression today was very good.

Q2 contacted the water office and was told the general manager is on vacation and a message was left for the assistant general manager.