For nearly three and a half decades Curtis Horton made Carson City Public Works his life’s purpose.
Over the course of these 35 years Horton witnessed Public Works drastically transform, grow, improve, and expand. Countless city staff in Public Works, Fire, Sheriff, Dispatch, Finance, Human Resources, Community Development, and more have experienced and learned valuable lessons from Horton’s mentorship. Horton has contributed a considerable amount of effort to ensuring the health, safety, comfort, and quality of life of the citizens of Carson City.
“Public Works is on the right track. I’m proud of many projects. The corporate yard is one of them, we had never had a great yard so we started to try and improve that, our storage is more efficient, we’ve built an inhouse commercial driver training course to guarantee staff are well-trained.” Horton continued.
“Another project is our radio communications program, we installed the radio tower in our yard, improved all the other sites and the majority of that is James Jacklett and Shawn Wiese – they get all the credit for that. I’ve supported the operation, participated in the design, but it’s been a huge collaborative effort with James leading the way. Our communications system is critical for everybody that uses it and vast improvements have been made and we’re about to make great strides going forward.”
Horton’s career in Public Works began on Aug. 15, 1985, he was immediately promoted to senior technician before ending his probationary period.
“I wanted to know everything about the job, so I went in on weekends, studied maps, talked to staff, I always volunteered for overtime, and I found it all fascinating,” he said. “I spent every moment learning and enjoyed it – I thought it was an important job that you had to do well.”
Soon after Horton was promoted to Foreman, then Assistant Superintendent which changed to Operations Chief, and later Deputy Public Works Director.
“A lot of what has been fun for me is doing little things to help people. It’s gratifying to go out into the community and meet with a citizen who is having a problem with either a water meter or the street and solving the problem; making them feel better – you take that load off them. And you move on to the next one. That to me is the best part of the job – is helping people” said Horton.
Horton enjoyed his day-to-day work often being the first foot in the door and the last to leave. Every significant snow or rain operation Horton played a major role, whether Incident commander or out on the scene, Horton was the calm collected voice on the radios coaching crews through the storm.
Horton’s first experience in helping to manage a disaster was in 2004 with the Waterfall Fire, and later the floods leading Division A through intense conditions maintaining Kings Canyon and Ash Canyon, moving creeks, boulders, and debris, ensuring residents had an emergency exit. During the 2017 flood, Kings Canyon Road was in jeopardy of being washed out and was completely obstructed by heavy debris, Horton gathered his team and managed the disaster swiftly and decisively opening the road before dawn.
Horton helped implement the Carson City Fire Department training program and the water tender program, both are critical for emergency response. Horton along with then Fire Chief Stacey Giomi established the training program and the water tender program by uniting Public Works and Fire’s resources.
“We’ve been fortunate to be able to develop all those relationships and cultivate them into something that really serves the community well,” said Horton.
Before Horton’s last day on the job Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong presented an award in honor and recognition of his distinguished service and his dedication to the Carson City Sheriff’s Office. Horton, having worked alongside Sheriff Furlong during many incidents and tragedies, has contributed much to the Sheriff’s Office as well, supporting Carson City’s officers whenever possible.
May 28, marked a milestone in Horton’s life, being his last day on the job, a day to remember. Like most days Horton spent his day contributing to the development of others, providing advice, and being a role model. His last few hours were spent communicating fundamental values, leaving a legacy to his successor Dan Stucky, former City Engineer.
On his last hour, Horton was surprised with an ornamental plaque resting on a City bench located on Telegraph Square (on Telegraph and Curry Street).
Along with the presentation of the Curtis Horton Alliance Award made possible by Carson City Fire Department and the Carson City Firefighters Association Local 2251, which will honor future leaders whose achievements match Horton’s.
During the last minutes of Horton’s career Carson City Dispatcher Liz Hertz delivered Horton’s final radio call, tones cried out, Hertz said “Carson all units, informational tone… Carson City Public Works Curtis Horton this is a code 4 dispatch for you to report immediately to your retirement. After almost 35 years with Carson City we will miss your calm and steady voice on the radio and your calm and steady hand in keeping the city running, with grateful hearts, enjoy your retirement and from dispatch personally thank you so much Curt.”