Bob Panek at last September's PSA information meeting at the Cheriton Fire Hall. He did not attend yesterday's Board of Supervisors meeting. (Wave photo)

Bob Panek at last September’s PSA information meeting at the Cheriton Fire Hall. He did not attend yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. (Wave photo)

PSA Funding Is Stopped Until Change of Leadership

Cape Charles Wave

January 28, 2014

Northampton County Board of Supervisors effectively ended Bob Panek’s Public Service Authority chairmanship yesterday by voting to “stop all future funding until there is a change of leadership in the PSA.” Newly elected Board Chairman Larry LeMond made the motion, which was seconded by Larry Trala and passed unanimously.

The previous Board Chairman, Willie Randall, had maintained that the Supervisors had no power to dictate who chairs the PSA, because PSA members elect their own chairman. Randall lost his seat in the November election to Granville Hogg, and the deciding factor in that upset seems to have been the PSA issue.

The new Board of Supervisors simply used the power of the purse. The PSA is financed wholly by the County, and without funds it can do nothing. Although Panek technically remains chairman, a refusal by him to step down would be a Pyrrhic victory, since the PSA could no longer function.

The opposition to Panek centered on the fact that he is also the assistant town manager for the Town of Cape Charles. A Wave editorial (click to read) addressed the issue last September, maintaining that Town Council’s appointment of Panek to the PSA “violates the principle of separation between a paid public employee and an elected or appointed official.”

Under Panek’s leadership, the PSA turned a deaf ear to public outcry.  Last September 17, some 100 residents came to the Cheriton Fire Hall to oppose PSA plans to establish a sewer district around the Route 13-Cheriton area that could increase property taxes in the special district by almost 100 percent. Despite the universal outcry at the meeting, the PSA met immediately afterward to unanimously approve a $70,000 contract with the engineering firm Hurt & Profitt to begin surveying the sewer project.


Although the special sewer district would be outside Cape Charles town limits, the sewer pipe would extend to the Town’s treatment plant.

Several Supervisors yesterday emphasized their support for commercial development in general, but not for the way PSA plans were going. “I guess my biggest problem right here,” Chairman LeMond said, “is that I hear at least once a week, twice a week, about the [Cape Charles] assistant town manager being the chairman of the PSA. Personally gentlemen, I don’t see this project going anywhere with the current chairman.  I like the chairman, but the perception is there, and until we get rid of the perception, it’s not going any place, in my opinion. I know it’s a drastic step, but I’m going to propose to the Board tonight that we stop all future funding to the PSA until there’s a change in leadership at the top of the PSA.”

LeMond also noted that “we’re not getting options [from the current PSA]. It’s like . . . Cape Charles is the only place we can do anything. We haven’t looked at Bayview, we haven’t looked at Webster’s, we haven’t looked at a system that Mr. [Bob] Meyers brought forward that would serve a small service area. This Board needs some options.”

Panek normally attends any Board of Supervisors meeting with a PSA agenda item, but he was absent from yesterday’s meeting.





  1. Deborah Bender on January 27th, 2014 10:27 pm

    Well, well, well! Finally someone has realized what I have been saying all along: Bob Panek Needs To Go! Conflict of interest plain and simple.

  2. Larry Beckett on January 28th, 2014 1:23 am

    Perception is reality. Hopefully, the town of Cape Charles will finally wake up and smell the coffee. When you find a fly in a bowl of milk, do you spoon the fly out or do you throw the entire bowl out? (Cape Charles being the bowl of milk!)

  3. David Boyd on January 28th, 2014 9:04 am

    It’s pretty clear the current Board of Supervisors is paying closer attention to their constituents than has been the case until recently. I’d like to thank them for that.

  4. Bobby Roberts on January 29th, 2014 4:58 pm

    There’s another solution to this county sewage controversy. Dismantle the whole PSA. A county this size doesn’t need another level of government trying to run things. If an area wants sewer service they can pay for it themselves, like Cape Charles does. The county Public Works Department can run the system, like they do in Bayview and the Eastville county complex. Cape Charles can lead the way out of the PSA and get themselves out from under the whole county sewer mess.

  5. Scott Walker Jr on February 2nd, 2014 5:40 pm

    The Board of Supervisors didn’t fire Panek; they removed the PSA’s power to fund projects — at least as long as Panek is chairman.

    “Although Panek technically remains chairman, a refusal by him to step down would be a Pyrrhic victory, since the PSA could no longer function.”

    Sloppy journalism.

    The BOS effectively doomed running sewer pipes throughout Cheriton Metro. Hey, the Burg has gotten by with septic for 150+ years. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    If you had experience in government or the military you might have understood the use of the word “fire” in the headline, which was fully explained by the sentence you quoted above from the story. The best-known example was when President Reagan “fired” Lt. Col. Oliver North. The word “fired” was used by essentially every news organization reporting it. Technically, North was not fired. He was a Marine before and after being “fired,” and his salary did not change. You may wish to also complain to the Eastern Shore News (click to read) about its headline: “Supervisors replace head of county PSA.” –EDITOR