In a rare passing of the guard, two elected directors were sworn in to the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 board following a regular meeting Tuesday.
Incumbent Allen Cloud, a former mayor of Killeen and 13-year incumbent, and Richard “Dick” Young, a former Killeen City Councilman, were the top two vote getters in the district’s first competitive board election in 24 years on May 5.
Cloud and Young faced incumbent Mike Miller, a six-year incumbent and former Harker Heights City Councilman, who placed third in the race for two at-large board seats.
On Tuesday, Miller thanked his fellow board members and district staff while also defending the district’s reputation.
“This has been an absolute pleasure — without question it’s the best group of people I’ve worked with,” Miller said. “Never has any director done anything that wasn’t in the best interest of the district.”
President John Blankenship sought to explain to the audience of 15 why the district has been out of the public eye for years.
“We work quietly to make sure when the faucet turns on, water comes out,” Blankenship said.
Regardless, the May 5 election immediately brought changes to the district’s public interface as board meetings and agenda — previously absent from the district’s website — have now been posted online for two consecutive months.
Prior to the board member swearing in, the district received an update on monthly financials and the status of the $46.1-million treatment plant currently under construction on the shores of Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
Manager Ricky Garrett told the board that the treatment plant was moving along well and vertical walls were being constructed at the treatment plant’s main facility.
The plant project, contracted for construction in summer 2017, will provide an additional 10 million gallons per day of treated water capacity to the city of Killeen and additional capacity for other area municipalities.
To pay for the plant, the district approved $50 million in debt with Killeen ratepayers paying around $25 million back through utility fees. In 2013, the City Council approved a $5 million additional “down payment” from its water-sewer reserve fund to avoid future interest.
The remaining cost of the project will be covered by debt service payments from the district’s other municipal customers.
“That project is something we can be proud of out there,” board secretary Dr. Mitchell Jacobs said.