Letter to the Editor

Dear Members, Holley-Navarre Water System, Inc.

It’s past time for me to tell my side of the story.  I have not responded to the chaos posted on Facebook and articles in the South Santa Rosa News because of my fiduciary responsibility to the Holley Navarre Water System, Inc., and you, the membership.  That responsibility is to act in the best interest of the corporation at all times, which I take seriously.  Delaying my reply has been at a personal cost, as my honor and ethics were targeted, disparaged and vilified.

I have been a board director for just under five weeks. My objectives are to do what is ethical and make improvements. I was especially concerned after a 17.5 percent-rate increase was approved. I have 28 years of leadership experience, retiring as a lieutenant colonel from the USAF. One of my jobs was as second in charge of a multimillion dollar radar facility where I directed all aspects of daily operations, from civil engineering/facility management to personnel oversight.

However, even with this wealth of knowledge and experience, as an “outsider” I was not welcomed onto the board by two directors.

My first night was the monthly golf course meeting.  I learned of the high costs of capital improvements to a golf course that has critical long-term operating losses.  An operating budget provided by the general manager reflected continued losses with no plan of recovery.  I also learned of revenue losses caused by a special membership plan established by the general manager yet not approved by the board.  Given my fiduciary obligations, I knew actions must be taken to stop these hemorrhaging losses.  My discussions with other board directors, including one who would later leave the personnel meeting in protest, indicated there was agreement the current general manager was not performing his duties productively, and would likely have already been replaced in any other business operation.

The next week, another director who had also been serving as the golf course committee chair, arranged two opportunities for all directors to meet a possible general manager candidate. The gentleman was forthcoming about his qualifications and graciously answered all questions, to include forward-thinking ideas of how to improve all aspects of the golf course. Another positive consideration was his passion and identification with our golf course because he worked there in its early days. This was the first and only time I met this individual. But in my opinion he was highly impressive and the obvious solution to three years of losses at the golf course.

At a confidential personnel meeting April 17, decisions were made properly through motions, discussions and votes. Dissenting board directors stormed out. Business standards dictate that personnel decisions are made confidentially because of the negative ramifications that occur when an employee learns about actions from a source other than his leadership. This is exactly what has occurred these past two-plus weeks in the court of public opinion, with only one side of what truly occurred being conveyed.

These are the reasons I voted as I did in the confidential personnel meeting. I didn’t vote to further my status, achieve power or make personal gains. I voted for actions I thought would improve the operations of the golf course and were in the best interest of the HNWS, just as I was entrusted to do.

I have honorably served the members of the HNWS by putting you first, not responding to the personal attacks, and not confirming confidential personnel actions previously shared to the detriment of the HNWS as a whole.  I firmly believe directors, even those who don’t agree, must comply with accepted standards of conduct to keep personnel actions and legal documents confidential until an appropriate time for public release.  It is only at this juncture in the personnel process that transparency is a factor.

There is a petition circulating in social media and a local newspaper. It claims I, along with three other board directors, are “incapable of acting in the members (sic) or HNWS’s best interests and are only on the board to serve their own interests.”  I hope my explanation proves otherwise. I have no business holdings within the HNWS where I could inappropriately benefit from my volunteer service on the board. I have no personal agenda. My hope in joining the board of directors is to provide experience and maturity. My HNWS agenda is to provide the lowest cost and highest quality water to all members, including myself…period.

I’m exhausted by the chaos and attacks. Regardless, I’m ready to pull up my bootstraps and get to work. It’s time the board of directors sets a course correction, ceases the squabbling and damaging personal attacks, and returns to the corporation’s business.


Debbie Gunnoe

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Navarre Press

7502 Harvest Village Ct.
Navarre FL 32566


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