By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The Honorable Lynn Nelson presided over the West Virginia Public Service Commission’s (PSC) emergency hearing requesting receivership of the Timberline Four Seasons Utilities. The courtroom as well as the hallway was overflowing with individuals having interest in this matter. Representatives from the PSC carted in boxes full of documents and files on dolly’s with evidence to make their case. Leslie Anderson, Council for PSC spoke on their behalf along with John Cooper, representative for Canaan Valley Public Service District (CVPSD).
Nelson called the hearing to order with Anderson presenting two proposed orders for the court’s consideration, the first to assign receivership to CVPSD along with an outline of their duties, the second being an outline of the process to ensure a smooth transition. Anderson also presented three orders seeking admissibility into evidence, some dating back to 2016 to aid in the building of the case, to which all were permitted. Anderson had testimonies on hand ready to swear in under oath; however, Nelson felt that was unnecessary at this time. “The court has the upmost confidence it will be in good hands,” proclaimed Nelson. The official court document bearing Judge Nelsons signature reads, “It is adjudged and ordered that the motion of the Commission in this action be granted. It is further adjudged and ordered that the CVPSD is appointed as receiver for the respondent, TFSU.” The document further stated, “It is further adjudged and ordered that the control and responsibility of TFSU water and sewer utility operations shall remain with the receiver until further order of this Court.”
At this point, Tracy Herz entered the courtroom and sat down at her respected bench after Nelson had already proclaimed acceptance of PSC’s motion. “Who are you?” inquired Nelson, “Tracy Edmonds Herz,” she responded. Nelson reprimanded Hertz, explaining court was scheduled for 9 a.m. and stated, “It’s basically over.” Herz apologized stating she was printing off papers to bring and her children had used all her printer ink. She requested to be given reports on the utilities while in CVPSD management as well as a timeline to be reinstated as managers of the entity. Cooper, standing to address the judge, requested a former contract between TFSU and Timberline Management be null and void due to the transfer of control, to which Nelson complied. Cooper, in response to Herz report request, stated they had planned to do such on a quarterly basis, beginning in July. Herz requested this to be done so monthly, to which Nelson responded, “You’ll get one in July.”
Prior to the hearing being dismissed, Herz claimed to the court the family has put several thousands of dollars into the utilities company and has forensic accounting to prove her case. Nelson encouraged Herz to seek council and file a suit before dismissing the courtroom.
Nelson also signed over the attachment of all assets pertaining to the business of TFSU. These items include, but are not limited to ledgers, billing software, contracts, schedules, tax returns, invoices, records, and keys. These items are to be delivered to the Tucker County Sheriff’s Department for transfer to CVPSD. The order continued with, “Mr. Frederick Herz and Mrs. Tracy Edmonds Herz, their agents, assigns, and employees, TFSU, its officers, directors, managers, agents, assigns, and employees, affiliated entities and all persons and entities acting in concert with them, are restrained from any manner interfering with the operation of the TFSU utility operations by CVPSD, as receiver, and they should provide immediate and unimpeded access to CVPSD to all of the water and sewage facilities, tanks, equipment, pipes, lines, parts, pumping stations, and other assets of TFSU which currently are available to serve the customers of TFSU.”
Herz was followed up with via email as to her thoughts and comments on the hearing results. She replied, “As the judge indicated he will allow, Timberline Utilities will ask its attorney to file the documents that demonstrate its investment and the resorts investment in the utility since its inception”. According to Herz, from the mid 1990s to recent, the resort has invested personal funds in approximate amounts in excess of $2.2 million. “We are owed those funds and all we can document for Timberline’s investment in public infrastructure with interest by statute,” stated Herz. In regards to the services provided to homeowners utilizing TFSU, Herz commented, “We have shown tremendous forbearance in keeping service sustained for homeowners who have not paid for months without terminating their service or initiating collections for the 40,000 plus dollars we are owed by homeowners, because we understand their plight, but that will need to be addressed forthwith, as well as tidying up and perfecting the systems I began to put in place.”
As for her request to receive monthly versus quarterly reports from CVPSD, her email stated “ It would be correct to report to me monthly in both specific and high level detail about the progress, but perhaps we can revisit that in July. Timberline and each of its associated companies are our family farm and we continue daily to do the next right thing to right the ship,” her email concluded.
In a follow up email with the PSC Communications Director Susan Small, she stated, “The Commission is pleased the Judge granted the Commission’s petition to place Timberline Four Seasons Utilities in receivership and appoint Canaan Valley Public Service District as the receiver. The Commission expects Canaan Valley PSD will immediately begin working to stabilize utility service for Timberline utility customers.”