NID chiefs retire, leave gaps to fill
The Nevada Irrigation District is marching into a complex future in the midst of major management changes.
With aging facilities, financial concerns and hydroelectric licenses due to lapse in 2013, NID has lost or will soon lose six of it’s top 10 managers to retirement – taking with them 155 years of experience.
NID Human Resources Manager Lynda Durand said three others, who have logged a total 74 years with the district, are contemplating retirement.
District board members are well aware that more than two centuries of experience is not easily replaced. But they are not panicking, largely because of one man: General Manager Ron Nelson.
“Our manager has been in place long enough (two years) to get his feet on the ground and he’ll get the new ones checked in,” said bard member Paul Williams of the Lincoln-North Auburn area.
“It would have been a shame if they’d all left right after Ron came on,” Williams said. “But they all stayed on long enough to get through that.”
Board member Scott Miller of the Lake of the Pines-Alta Sierra area is confident in Nelson and thinks the district will be OK in the long run.
“The shortcoming is there was not a lot of succession planning,” Miller said. “Some of our middle-experienced people have not been groomed.
“Ron is very capable and will hold things together,” Miller said. “But you wish there had been some people in the shoot.”
Nelson was unavailable for comment for this article. Those who have left – or soon will – include:
• General Manager Jim Chatigny, who retired in September 2002 after 23 years with the district. He was replaced by Nelson, who managed an irrigation district in Bend, Ore., for 22 years.
• Assistant General Manager Ben Barretta. He plans to retire Dec. 31 after 30 years with the district and a search is on for his replacement, Durand said.
• Operations Manager Terry Mayfield retired Wednesday after 35 years with the district. His replacement is Don Wight, who has been with the district for 23 years and was most recently Treated Water Superintendent.
• Hydroelectric Manager Les Nicholson, who retired in January with 34 years of experience and another 37 years of district knowledge gleaned from his NID employee father. Nelson is now the acting hydro manager, and the position is under assessment.
• Maintenance Manager Robin Lantz, who plans to retire next May after 15 years with NID.
• Board Secretary Carol Gates who retired in February after 18 years with NID. Her replacement is Lisa Francis Tassone, who was an administrative assistant in the City of Grass Valley’s Public Works Department for four years prior.
The trio contemplating retirement in the next few years includes Durand, who has been with the district 14 years.
Chief Engineer Tim McCall is another, Durand said, and has been with the district 32 years. Finance Manager Tess Andrews is the third and has been with NID for 28 years.
That leaves Peggy Davidson, who is the Placer Office Administrator in Auburn and has been with the district 17 years.
“She wants to stay until she retires and that will be awhile,” Durand said.
“We have to be astute about getting new replacements,” said board member Nancy Weber of the Nevada City area.
Weber admitted she has criticized the efforts of some of the nine who have left or will leave soon, “but I have a lot of respect for those people. They added a lot to NID’s stability.”
Board member John Drew, who represents Grass Valley and Chicago Park, said the NID managers simply qualified for retirement about the same time.
“It’s a great loss for NID and those who step in behind them,” Drew said. “There’s some stuff to do before they come up to the plate.”
“It’s seemingly a problem, but we have a damn fine staff,” said board Chairman George Leipzig of the Penn Valley-Lake Wildwood area.
“Ron Nelson is looking to fill some positions from the outside and will fill in the gaps.”
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