ECUD: Presidency to remain vacant, residents barred entry

Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 10:44 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - The Ector County Utility District board saw an official resignation from Tommy Ervin, the now former president.

The board considered that vacancy inside a meeting room, while concerned residents gathered outside, questioning why they weren’t allowed to come in.

The residents were barred due to an occupancy limit at the ECUD building on N. Moss Avenue. They expressed disappointment and frustration that they weren’t able to hear about the resignation and vacancy firsthand.

“We don’t know what happened,” said Will Kappauf, a West Odessa resident.

They were told there was no more room.

“We came today like we always do, and we get here and there’s a crowd of people standing out front,” said John Kelley, a West Odessa resident. “...And they have an occupancy sign on the door that says 23 max, well that occupancy sign wasn’t there last month.”

That meant they couldn’t hear what happened for themselves.

Inside, the board wished Ervin well and voted to postpone choosing someone to fill his place.

Ervin’s official removal comes after he was given an ultimatum last month. He had to resign or show he was pardoned for a 1975 charge related to dealing cocaine and methamphetamine.

“It’s with regret and I’ll carry on and the board can carry on with their issues,” Ervin said. “And if they ask me anything, I’ll still be around. You can call me a consultant or whichever one you want to. But in reality, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll still be helping ECUD for years to come. I hope.”

Outside, the residents called on law enforcement to see if officers could gain them entry. Ervin says the 23 limit was recently decided on by the fire marshal.

Next up for the board is reviewing applications, which are open now, at a future meeting.

Ervin thinks it’ll take someone who really cares about West Odessa.

“It’s really hard for somebody to volunteer to be on this board, with the political environment that’s out here,” Ervin said. “Because you’re going to get attacked. I mean, you’re going to get attacked ugly.”

Kappauf wants to see his fellow residents run for the presidency, plus two board seats that are up for election next year.

“I’d like to see some informed and involved residents out here, with integrity, stand up and raise their hand and run for election and put the right people on this board to set this district straight,” Kappauf said.

Today’s controversy was just one chapter in ECUD’s complicated story in recent years.

“Just pray for West Odessa,” said Troy Walker, an ECUD board member. “There’s a lot of turmoil and I’m tired of turmoil. I don’t want turmoil. I want happiness. I want us to be neighbors again and I want this to run smoother.”

Applications to fill the remainder of Ervin’s term will be reviewed at the next ECUD board meeting, which typically falls on the third Wednesday of each month.