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Joe Waterman is set to begin his duties as general manager for the Chester Public Utility District on Dec. 1. Photo by M. Kate West
After many months of waiting to learn who would be the new general manager of the Chester Public Utility District, director Wes Scott ended the suspense Nov. 12.
Scott said the CPUD board of directors offered the job to director Joe Waterman.
“It was a unanimous decision to offer the position to Joe Waterman,” Scott said. “I’m not happy about this in one respect: he has been a great board member.”
Waterman abstained from the vote.
Scott explained that the application process went through several stages. A preliminary selection committee, whose membership included Tom Forster from Eastern Plumas, Quincy Fire Chief Robbie Cassou and retired teacher Greg McIntire.
Each applicant participated in an oral interview with a number of fixed questions asked by a panel of five members.
In the next step, four applications went forward to the board’s ad hoc selection committee. Scott and director Barbara Montandon were tasked with the final review and forming a recommendation to the full board of directors.
In responding to a question about Waterman’s job description, Scott said, “It is a half-time position, on a one-year contract with no benefits and we have yet to determine the salary.”
Waterman as general manager will have the responsibility to act as fire chief as well as the manager for the street light, water and sanitation divisions of the district.
In a later interview Waterman said he is retired under the PERS system and in working as the general manager he is considered a retired annuitant. As such, he can only work 960 hours maximum in any given year.
Why contract versus hire
The board considered its budget when deciding between contracting versus hiring.
“We are still digging the district out of a hole, and we are trying to make sure we take full advantage of income billings and look how we can best capitalize on that revenue,” Waterman said.
“But we are making great progress and we are trying to get a foundation back as it relates to the position of general manager.”
He said that over the past months, the board has focused on policy and procedure, rebuilding the district’s recordkeeping system and ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations.
Waterman said he is not planning on being a long-term general manager.
He said the need exists to figure out how the district should be managed and to complete the merger of the district in signage and other areas.
“There are a lot of moving parts to this district and I have sought the training to pull them together,” he added.
“The No. 1 thing I will lend my focus to is relationships, both internal and external, and the sharing of information,” he said.
He said his personal goal was to advertise the general manager position in one year’s time.
“That’s my goal. If it takes a little longer we’ll work it out,” he added.
He listed among his other goals to set a management style in place, to meet the board’s budget goals and to update and create policy and procedure where needed.
“As the general manager, the board and I will continue to work together to get the district back on good footing,” he said.
He also spoke about the board’s focus on rebuilding.
“We need to continue to move forward and overall we have done that.
“Director Ben Thompson, who has filled the volunteer position of acting fire chief, has done a tremendous job holding the district together and keeping it from dissolving. He is to be commended,” Waterman said.
Waterman has been a Chester resident since 1999. He and his wife, Carol Ann, have three daughters.
Carol Ann is a teacher at St. Andrew’s Academy.
Daughter Sara is a college graduate who is now in her second year of medical school. Daughter Rebekah has completed college and is now studying to be a paramedic. JoAnna, who is a junior at Hillsdale College, is an accounting major.
Waterman was voted as a member of the CPUD board of directors in March.
Prior to retiring from the CalFire Lassen-Modoc-Plumas Unit in January, he held the positions of division chief, unit operations chief and Antelope Conservation Camp Chief.
He has held a variety of positions, with increased responsibility, since being hired as a seasonal firefighter for the California Department of Forestry in 1974.
Waterman gained his experience for the position of general manager through his employment and in holding the board positions of chairman of the Big Valley Fire Protection District, vice president of Big Valley Medical Center and district representative to Firenet Lassen.
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