Enge hired at energy office

Education activist Joe Enge has been hired as deputy director of the Nevada Governor's Energy Office.

Enge is a member of the Carson School District Board of Trustees, elected in November 2006. Energy Office director Hatice Gecol said he was the best qualified of three finalists for the position despite the fact he isn't an engineer but a government and history teacher by profession.

Enge said his job will be "basically to organize the office" and ensure everything runs smoothly.

"This frees up everybody all around so they can focus on what their main duties are," he said.

Gecol and Gov. Jim Gibbons said the decision was hers and that he was not involved in recommending or selecting Enge.

And Enge said because the job was offered to him before the state hiring freeze took effect, his employment wasn't blocked.

Enge said he has private sector experience and was a research and policy analyst for the Nevada Policy Research Institute so it's not as though he's doing something he isn't qualified to handle.

Enge acknowledged he has been at the center of several controversies, including what he describes as his "divorce" from the Carson School District where he taught history for more than five years. A federal mediator helped resolve that conflict with Enge leaving his teaching position for an undisclosed settlement, after which he ran and won a seat on the school board.

While on the board, he has twice filed charges the board was violating Nevada's Open Meeting Law.

He says as a former classroom teacher with experience in Nye County and overseas as well as Carson City and at Rites of Passage, he believes major changes should be made in how students are taught.

"I raise issues that otherwise wouldn't be raised," he said.

Enge also was the focus of attention after a Lyon County deputy charged him with driving under the influence in 2005. His breath test indicated a blood alcohol content about three times the legal limit but the tests were thrown out because the judge was advised his dentures could have produced an inaccurate reading by retaining alcohol in his mouth. The charge was dismissed.

He said the real problem was fatigue, not alcohol. But he admits to two prior DUI convictions in southern Nevada more than a decade ago.

That was followed by an incident this past Nevada Day when Enge, 44, lost control of his car in a round-about on Southridge Court at 5:45 a.m. The vehicle took out the back yard fence belonging to Rudi Schmid and his wife. Enge was originally charged with hit-and-run for leaving the scene. He said he planned to return in daylight when he could find the correct home easier.

He said Monday he paid Schmid some $1,200 to repair the fence and replace one plant.

Gecol said Enge told her about those incidents during the interview process and that she isn't concerned because they have nothing to do with the job of deputy director. And she said she needed management skills more than another engineer to fill the post.

"The office needs a good day-to-day manager," Gecol said.

The DUI arrest, she described as "a private matter."

The energy office is in charge of, among other things, implementation of the LEED green building tax breaks for Nevada businesses which agree to build energy efficient buildings. It is also reviewing the governor's proposals to bring "clean coal generation" power plants to Nevada.

Enge's salary as deputy director is $64,921.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


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