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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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May 20, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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May 20, 2015
 

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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, May 20, 2015 7A Indian Valley Community Services District general manager resigns Miriam S. Cody Staff Writer mcody@plumasnews,com Indian Valley Community Services District General Manager Jesse Lawson said, "It's time for me to move on," and submitted his resignation at the May 13 meeting of the IVCSD board. "This is not OK," responded tearful community member Tanya Henrich as the three-hour meeting was adjourned. Lawson said his last day at the district would be June 5. IVCSD board members sat in a silence broken only by a few gasps from the public audience and a "wow" here and there, until director Lee Anne Schramel said she didn't feel right about simply moving on with the meeting. Schramel asked whether there should be a future item on a meeting agenda to accept Lawson's resignation. Former Plumas County District Attorney James Reichle, who acts as counsel for the district, said, "You don't have to accept it. He can quit if he wants." Some Indian Valley community members have openly regarded Lawson as an integral part of the district's survival, by thanking, praising and voicing their approval of him during meetings. "It is really disheartening," ''i 'i,! ' ' ,o Uc #691840 WE DELIVER 1080 Hwy 36, Chester Near the diversion canal) said community member Lanis Lebaron during the public comment period earlier in the meeting. She said people who go above and beyond their job description shouldn't be treated poorly by those who disagree with them. Some of Lawson's projects, like the prospect of transferring water from Round Valley Reservoir, have been highly controversial within the community. "You should thank your lucky stars, every day, that you can turn on your water faucet and get water," Lebaron said. Other community members have said they've been dissatisfied with Lawson's work in the district and have wanted him to quit for some time. Rancher Heather Kingdon told Feather Publishing in March, "I find Mr. Lawson's statements (about ranchers) inflammatory and disrespectful. The saying 'drunk with power' comes to mind. He needs his wings clipped." A group of local citizens who call themselves Citizens for Responsible Government in Indian Valley have openly expressed disapproval of Lawson's practices through spokesperson Mina Admire. "While his absence will leave a noticeable void, we believe the current board is "This has been one of my most challenging assignments. It's time for me to move on. Jesse Lawson General Manager Indian Valley Community Services District competent and capable to mitigate any undue difficulties this may create in the short term," Admire said in an interview the morning after Lawson's resignation. "We also have faith in their ability, and the Indian Valley community at large, to put personal differences aside and work together collectively and united in the goal of securing the future of both the IVCSD and the community it serves." Lawson has worked for the district since 2007. Since he was promoted to manager in 2012, he has been credited with many improvements to the district's infrastructure. He has been highly praised for helping the community conserve what some consider to be its most precious resource: water. He has also been criticized by Citizens for Responsible Government in Indian Valley for "wagging the dog," referring to the expression "the tail wagging the dog," because of his influence on past boards of directors and their willingness to follow his direction without question. Admire said she feels the chain of command has not always been followed appropriately within the district. "A manager manages a district," said Lawson. He said that includes giving direction where direction is needed. Lawson did not divulge any future plans, nor did he offer much explanation except to thank his crew, Don Silva and new employee Ben Finnegan, for all their hard work. He also said, "This has been one of my most challenging assignments." Lawson has an extensive resume that includes 23 years I I Pavers Grading Manure Flagstone Trucking Utility Rock Deco Rock Retaining Walls Sand & Gravel For your bulk landscaping needs- of mechanic and supervisory experience, 16 of which are in waterworks maintenance. He also worked in aviation mechanics and performed maintenance on Blackhawk helicopters in the United States Army. In 2013 he was named Wastewater Operator of the Year by the California Rural Water Association. In a previous interview, Lawson said he was surprised at the tenacity of some of the people who opposed him. He said his project to transfer water from Round Valley Reservoir has always been in the best interest of the community. Last year a recall petition was circulated and approved, resulting in the resignation of three directors to the board. Those directors named abuse from the recall committee as some of their reasons for quitting. Who's going with him? "I'm probably following him out the door," said Reichle. Reichle was on the meeting's agenda in an item to discuss his pay, which director Phinip Shannon stated he wished to discuss in closed session. Reichle argued that closed session would not be appropriate for such a discussion, but agreed to table the item for a future meeting. Reichle spoke to the board from the sidelines several times throughout the meeting in the interest of legality, guiding the directors to proceed appropriately and within the law. By the end of the night, voices were raised and Reichle told the board members, "You aren't going to listen to me anyway." Shannon mentioned that IVCSD does have another attorney on retainer, Greg Einhorn. However, Einhorn charges more than twice the $50 per hour Reichle charges, Reichle said. "I'll be submitting my t'mal bill. Obviously I don't have the confidence of the board anymore," said Reichle after Lawson announced his resignation. Director Schramel told Reichle he did indeed have her confidence. The meeting was finally adjourned close to 10 p.m. Central Plumas Recreation District, Plumas Arts and Face the Music Studio Present ............ ............. 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