Tarrant Regional Water District management practices under scrutiny

Tarrant Regional Water District's money management is being investigated, according to State Rep. Lance Gooden, whose district includes Cedar Creek Lake.

Gooden told the Cedar Creek Area Chamber of Commerce during a Nov. 13 speech he testified before a Henderson County grand jury in September about his concerns that TRWD has "mismanaged funds for many years."

Gooden said he filed multiple open records requests for information, but TRWD's attorneys "stonewalled" him. "It really leads me to believe they are trying to hide something," he said. "We can't seem to get any answers."

Gooden said he took his concerns to Henderson County District Attorney R. Scott McKee. "It is my belief if he looks hard enough he will find some pretty interesting things."

Gooden said his concerns include allegations that TRWD provides massage therapists for all employees, owns a lake house on Cedar Creek Lake for the use of top managers and members of the board of directors, maintains deer leases for managment's use and gives water to fracking operations.

McKee said in a telephone interview that "ethical and legal obligations" prevent him from commenting on Gooden's remarks, but he provided a written statement.

"Any citizen has a statutory right in Texas to appear before a grand jury," McKee said in the statement.  "Furthermore, grand juries have broad power to subpoena witnesses and documents and to conduct investigations. Secrecy is a hallmark of the grand jury and its proceedings for a number of reasons.  One of those reasons is to protect the integrity of an investigation.  Another is to protect the reputation of an individual who might ultimately be cleared by a grand jury investigation.

"I along with any witness that testifies before a grand jury is under a legal obligation to not divulge any testimony, questions or things that they have observed before a grand jury.  I take this obligation seriously and therefore can never divulge things that occur before them without a court order.  Based on this legal and ethical obligation, I simply cannot comment on any matter or subject regarding the grand jury."

TRWD's media spokesman Chad Lorance requested that an email be sent to him outlining Gooden's allegations before he issues a statement. TRWD owns Cedar Creek Lake, and it was built as a water reservoir for Tarrant County in the mid-1960s.

Lorance's response is still pending.

Gooden said he is concerned that TRWD is pumping water out of Cedar Creek Lake to sell in order to divert money to a "slush fund."

"The ultimate goal is to have honest people running the organization," Gooden said. "Perhaps, they don't really need all the water they are taking out."

Gooden said it also concerns him that there are no local people on the TRWD board of directors.

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GOOD. Water lightly stained; 58 degrees; 0.66 feet low. The fall bite is in full swing. Crappie are good on jigs and minnows relating to timber and brush in 12-30 feet of water. Bass are good with a topwater bite early, switching to jigs later in the day. Rely on heavy structures such as the boathouse, brush piles, bridges, and laydowns. Catfish are good on cut bait, chicken liver. You will catch bigger catfish on stinkbait.

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