Commissioners appoint former Conroe mayor to LSGCD board
Published in the San Antonio Express, by Catherine Dominguez, email@example.com
Montgomery County commissioners unanimously appointed Melder during a special session Tuesday. He will fill the expired term of Richard Tramm, general manager of the Porter Special Utility District.
The other county appointee is Gregg Hope, whose term expires in 2019.
Melder served on the City Council for four years then as mayor for eight years, with water being one of the most important issues of his service. Melder has battled the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District and San Jacinto River Authority over data regarding the aquifer recharge rate, amount of water in the aquifers and water fees, which has led to ongoing litigation among the groups as the city fights for its right to pump as much groundwater as necessary from the ground.
Tramm's term expired Jan. 31. However, the court delayed making an appointment to allow each commissioner to recommend candidates and the court to interview each of them. The county appoints two members to the nine-person LSGCD board. They serve staggered four-year terms.
"I am willing to put forth a cooperative effort," Melder told the commissioners. "I don't mean being different than any other director on that board."
Melder said he would abstain from any topics, specifically those regarding the litigation between the city of Conroe and LSGCD, that have the appearance of a conflict of interest.
"Webb Melder is going to bring a perspective to the (district) that is sure to bring about new energy and perspective to the board," said Precinct 3 Commisssioner James Noack, who nominated Melder for the appointment.
The court unanimously supported Melder.
"I want to say something about Webb," Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said. "I love his answers about being passionate, I know he is passionate. I believe if you aren't passionate about this, you won't put 100 percent into it. I think Webb will put 100 percent into this appointment."
Precinct 1 Commissioners Mike Meador agreed with Riley.
"I was at a toss-up coming into this meeting," Meador said. "Don't go in there and throw rocks. You are a smart man, sit back and listen. I know you will make good decisions."
In October, officials with Conroe and Magnolia asked the court to remove Tramm and Hope as well as pursue new legislation making positions on the LSGCD board elected and not appointed. However, in a previous Courier article, County Judge Craig Doyal said he spoke with County Attorney J D Lambright, who said they could not be removed from the board before their terms expire.
While Doyal appointed Hope and reappointed Tramm, who was originally appointed by former County Judge Alan B. Sadler, he agrees with other county leaders that the board positions should be elected.
Commissioners approved a resolution Jan. 24 supporting a change in legislation that would make some of the positions on the board elected and not appointed as they currently are. State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and state Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe, will be pushing for that legislation this session.
The LSGCD was created in 2001 through House Bill 2362, authored by the late Ruben Hope, Gregg Hope's father. The San Jacinto River Authority, City of Conroe, the Woodlands Joint Powers Agency, the boards of the municipal utility districts on the east and west side of Interstate 45, the mayors of the other incorporated cities in the county and the directors of the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District also each appoint one director.