Anchor Water is ‘just fine’

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Anchor Water Association officials say everything with the water system is flowing just fine, despite a recent embezzlement arrest out of its office.

This spring, an Anchor Water employee was charged by the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office with embezzling around $100,000 from the water association.

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According to Investigator Alan Wilburn, Jessica Riggs Tidwell, 54, of Water Valley, was charged March 7 and the case will be presented when the next grand jury meets May 24-26. She has bonded out of jail and is represented by attorney David Hill.

“Anchor called us,” Wilburn said. “The board had reported that there was a discrepancy in their accounting and they had an accountant go through the records and that’s how we found out there was money missing. I got called down there and they had everything laid out and it was clear.”

Wilburn said Tidwell is accused of taking money over the past five to 10 years.

Robbie Bishop, president of the board of directors for the member-owned Anchor Water Association, said the case is under investigation and all he can say is, “everything’s fine, everything’s taken care of.”

Fellow board member Bill McGregor said Tidwell has been replaced and all is well.

“If anybody has any concerns or issues about the financial condition of Anchor Water Association, they’re welcome to come to a meeting,” McGregor said. “There are no financial issues at all. It’s a good operating system.”

The next meeting is May 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Anchor Water at 95 County Road 369.

The Mississippi Public Service Commission regulates water systems in the state, and Anchor is one that the Northern District PSC office works with. The PSC does not get involved in independent criminal cases like embezzlement but will investigate system complaints, whether it is a billing dispute or for dirty water. Both of those issues fall under quality of service, according to the PSC’s attorney, Shawn Shurden.

Shurden said the PSC does not regulate the rates systems charge for service, but it regulates the service area and the quality of service.

The office handles complaints daily out of 33 counties, but since 1995 there have only been 12 complaints with Anchor Water Association, the office said. In the past three years there has only been one complaint.