Skidmore man raising big stink over utilities
by Scott Reese Willey
Apr 25, 2009 | 2316 views | 2 2 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnny Monsevaiz has lived without electricity at his rural home near Skidmore for the past 12 months.

It’s not because he enjoys sweltering hot days, freezing cold nights or not being able to keep food refrigerated. It’s because the Bee County Health Department won’t allow the utility company to hook him up to power, he says.

Monsevaiz, 59, shared his frustration with county commissioners earlier this month, and he asked them to intercede on his behalf.

But Dennis DeWitt, director of the health department, said Monsevaiz isn’t hooked up to a proper sewer system and the exposed waste is a health hazard.

“What he has out there is a cesspool, essentially,” DeWitt explained to commissioners.

DeWitt said waste is piped to an open hole in the ground near the trailer home.

He said the open sewer breeds flies and disease and is a health and safety hazard to neighbors.

DeWitt said he tried to talk Monsevaiz into applying for a free government-approved septic system but he refused.

More than 160 other rural residents took advantage of the offer over the past three years.

DeWitt said one of his employees even offered to help Monsevaiz fill out the paperwork, but Monsevaiz repeatedly turned down the offer.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ronnie Olivares said he, too, has talked to Monsevaiz about applying for one of the free septic sewer systems but was also unsuccessful.

Monsevaiz told commissioners he doesn’t want to accept a government grant because he doesn’t want to be beholding to the government.

“What I got out at my place is totally mine; nobody has a say-so on it but me,” he explained. “And if I (accept) this grant you have, I feel I will have to do whatever the state wants me to do or the county wants me to do. And I don’t feel that is right, that anybody should be able to tell another individual what they have and what they shouldn’t have over at their place.”

However, DeWitt says the county is responsible for protecting its citizens from health hazards such as open cesspools.

“We are a nation of laws and regulations designed to keep society safe,” he told commissioners.

Monsevaiz discussed the problem with commissioners last month but they asked him to return at a later date so that they could hear from DeWitt, who was absent the last time Monsevaiz came to commissioners court.

On Tuesday, commissioners once again took no action on the issue because it was not on the agenda.

County Judge David Silva said Monsevaiz will have to work the problem out with DeWitt.

DeWitt said he has met with Monsevaiz several times and the meetings have “been very good,” but apparently not fruitful.

Monsevaiz told the Bee-Picayune that the issue came to light when he replaced his old wooden home with a small travel trailer about a year ago. He said he asked the utility company to remove a utility line that was hanging dangerously low above his driveway.

Later, when he went to have the power turned back on, the utility company refused, saying they needed authorization from the county government first.

DeWitt said Bee County requires all homeowners to have approved sewer septic systems in place before they can get their electricity hooked up.

When Mansevaiz went to seek that authorization, DeWitt told him the property would have to be inspected first to ensure it had the proper sewer system in place.

“We want to work with him, we’ve tried repeatedly to work with him to resolve the matter, but he simply refuses to budge,” DeWitt told the Bee-Picayune after Tuesday’s commissioners court session. “Three times we tried to get him to apply for the free grant and the free septic system and three times he refused. I’m not sure what more we can do. Cesspools breed flies and disease, such as cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery. We have to protect the public.”

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April 28, 2009
oh my- if someone can live without a proper sewage system and has no intentions of doing anything about that, then why want electricity, when you have lived without it for a year.

April 25, 2009
Poor Johnny Monsevaiz, the government is trying to take his rights from him, Why can't he have a pool of poop on his property it fits right in with B' County's character.