When the Randolph County Water Authority was first approached about this tobacco tax money, we were told to use it to provide people with water who would not be able to be included in a project. Let me make this clear, there was never any written letter given to the authority on how to use the money; it was told to us only verbally.
During this time, we have done what we were told; we put water to houses that would never be included in a project. Our first check was received Dec. 22, 2010, for $3,841.52. From that first check in 2010 to our last check (received May 21, 2013, for $4,441.56) we have received a total of $127,227.18 over a period of two years and five months. We have provided water to an additional 110 people. As far as us not finishing a project, the authority is not aware of that.
There are lines on the old water system that may be small and need to be upsized one day, but under what we were told, those people “have water,” so they were not eligible for the tobacco tax money to be used for that purpose.
The last thing is the new office in Wedowee, which we moved into in August 2010. No tax money was used in the construction of this building. The office was built with USDA loan money, which the water authority makes payment on each year. The purpose of building the office was to better serve the county and our customers by being centrally located.
We have grown so much in the past few years. The Randolph County Water Authority is one of the largest water systems in the state; we have 550 miles of pipe in the ground and have grown from 1,300 customers to 3,016 customers. Our old office in Roanoke was leased to Titus Bible College in October 2010. The college continues to holds its classes there. Other than the tobacco tax money we received to provide people with water who otherwise would not ever get it, the authority does not receive any other tax money from the Randolph County Commission or anyone else. The water authority is a self-sustaining business that operates off money it receives from selling water to our customers or other water authorities.
All the Randolph County Water Authority wants to do is to try to provide good, safe water to the county and do what it can to make the county a better place.
Vester S. Whitmore Jr. is chairman of the Randolph County Water Authority. He wrote this along with authority members Hudson Hodges (vice chairman/secretary), Jerrell Hodges, John Harmon and Allen McDaniel (board members) and Mark Prestridge (manager).