SPRINGTOWN - The Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board finally ended a months-long tug-of-war between political factions in Hood County Thursday night, April 20, when it decided which of two candidates would fill a vacated board seat that belongs to Hood County.
The board voted 5-2 in favor of Bob Lusk.
The vote was taken after an executive session that lasted a little more than an hour, and after the board heard from several speakers who had driven from Hood County, some of whom spoke in favor of Lusk, and some of whom spoke in favor of Mike Massey.
Massey helped create the UTGCD and served on its board for 12 years, six of them as its president. For years, when his term was set to expire, the Hood County Commissioners Court reappointed him.
That changed in 2019 when Massey and the board proposed a five-acre tract minimum for groundwater wells when it was looking to adopt permanent rules. The proposal angered many, including landowners, realtors, and developers. The board ultimately backed off from that plan and kept the requirement at two acres.
Massey’s term was up that same year. Instead of reappointing him, the Commissioners Court appointed Jarrod Reynolds.
The vacated board seat was held by Richard English, who resigned before his term ended.
Commissioners Courts in the four counties that make up the UTGCD appoint people to the two seats designated for their counties. When a seat is vacated, commissioners courts can recommend a replacement, but the UTGCD board makes the decision.
Because of Massey’s previous experience on that board, some on the Hood County Commissioners Court felt there was no question that he was the most qualified candidate. The court voted last November to recommend him for the seat. The vote was 3-2 and carried with the votes of County Judge Ron Massingill, then-Precinct 2 Commissioner Ron Cotton, and Precinct 3 Commissioner Jack Wilson. Precinct 1 Commissioner Kevin Andrews and Precinct 4 Commissioner Dave Eagle wanted Lusk.
What happened after that vote kicked off months of rancor and efforts to sway the UTGCD board’s decision.
In January, when Nannette Samuelson was seated as the new commissioner for Precinct 2, she, Andrews, and Eagle overturned the previous court’s vote, overpowering Massingill and Wilson to rescind the recommendation for Massey and replace it with one for Lusk.
Lusk, publisher of Pond Boss Magazine, has written numerous peer reviewed articles related to the property management of private lakes and ponds. He is on the advisory committee for Texas A&M’s newly formed Range, Wildlife, and Fisheries Department.
At the Thursday night board meeting at the UTGCD’s headquarters, Samuelson, Eagle, and Massingill were among those who addressed the board.
After listening to comments and then spending 65 minutes in a closed session, the board voted.
Tim Watts of Parker County made the motion to seat Lusk. Shannon Nave, also of Parker County, seconded it. It passed with the added votes of Don Majka and Brent Wilson, both of Wise County, and Hood County’s Reynolds. Montague County’s representatives, Tracy Mesler and Mike Berkley, voted nay.
After that vote was taken, UTGCD General Manager Doug Shaw informed board chair Mesler that appointments are always made by resolution. Watts’ motion did not involve adopting a resolution.
A second vote was taken to adopt Resolution 23003. Mesler cast a favorable vote, but Berkley again voted nay.