Alan Kalt’s legacy evolves county, inspires community
December 21, 2017
Whether it's a labor of love, to make a living, or to enhance quality of life for others, many hope to leave a legacy after decades of dedication—especially to their own community.
But what also counts is how the influence is carried over. Alan Kalt learned the key to accomplish it, serving as Churchill County's Comptroller for almost 26 years—the longest the county's ever had.
He is retiring as the County's Chief Financial Officer on Friday.
"When you work together as a team, you can achieve superior results," he said. "We worked tirelessly to achieve positive results for the community."
As a team, Kalt and the Churchill County Commissioners, County Manager, elected and appointed staff have many examples under the spotlight, such as balancing the budget through the difficult times of the recession.
They created a stabilization fund to balance operations and mitigate any natural disasters in the 1990s. This fund was available to pay mitigation and protection efforts from last winter's flooding with local farmers, community members and other authorities to chip in. During the recession, they prevented people from losing jobs or diminishing other services—compared to Washoe County, which lost at least 500 employees.
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They also brought Fallon a juvenile detention center, renovated the historic courthouse, City County Gym, library repurposing, and the William N. Pennington Senior Center without raising taxes or going into debt.
Although it was a collaborated coalition over the years, Kalt's colleagues said they couldn't have done it without his guidance.
"There was never a day I wasn't amazed by his brilliance," said County Manager Eleanor Lockwood. "Despite coming out of the recession, his leadership in the county has brought financial success. It's all because of his commitment."
"He has left a legacy of inspired financial leadership and wisdom that will not be forgotten," said Pete Olsen, Commissioner Chair of District 2. "That devotion has been demonstrated over and over to me as he has been instrumental in the financial success of Churchill County."
To be a comptroller also was another way for Kalt to the serve the community; projects were planned many years in the making and the county only borrowed funds to complete the new adult jail. Kalt served as the financial adviser and secured long-term financing at 2.75 percent interest to make it happen without assessing new taxes.
"This is what Fallon does," he said. "It's a great community to raise a family and give back."
Kalt commits to community service efforts even after office hours. On a regular basis, he volunteers to assist the Fallon Daily Bread, Fallon Rotary and St. Patrick's Church.
"In Fallon, you don't have to look too far for help — it's there," he said. "Part of my energy and passion is to provide help to people I've never met. It's a secret to lifelong success."
He often contributes to community efforts hosted by the Rotary Club of Fallon, as a member for almost 20 years and served as president in 2004. In 1997, he also received a President's Award from the Fallon Optimist. Kalt has served on the Committee Local Government Finance for 17 years providing technical guidance for local governments and the Department of Taxation.
Former Fallon Rotary Club president, Zip Upham, said Kalt's efforts within the club helped him envision and fund the new senior center.
"We installed an oven in the senior center as part of our charity," he said. "His long time involvement in Fallon Rotary, and his commitments to improving our community and our world has made a huge impact."
Although he was the county's longest serving Comptroller, Kalt also broke the record as youngest to obtain the role, hired at age 25.
Before moving to Nevada, Kalt graduated from Montana State University and worked for a Big 8 accounting firm in Reno.
"To hire somebody at my age was an experiment that worked for the former commissioners," he said. "They took a risk on a young kid and I am forever grateful."
Former County Manager Bjorn Slender served Churchill County for 28 years. He and former commissioners hired Kalt as he was top notch for the role, Slender said.
"He continued the growth throughout his entire career," he said. "Unlike a lot of finance types, he was very outgoing. He's been extremely instrumental with the new projects and has truly managed to secure a future for this county for the next 50 years."
But the opportunity wasn't the only thing that brought Kalt to Fallon; he also met Kieran, a Greenwave local, at University of Nevada, Reno football game — Wolf Pack vs. University of Montana Grizzlies, ironically.
Kalt and Kieran — who is a first grade teacher at Lahontan Elementary School — surpassed their 25th wedding anniversary in April.
"The Grizzlies lost the game the day I met her," he said. "But I won in the game of life on that day."
The Kalt children are greatly influenced by their parents: the oldest, Thaaron, is working at Grant Thorton LLP in Reno serving some of the same clients Kalt had in the past; the youngest, Stacy, is graduating from Churchill County High School in May and also is playing her last year on the Greenwave softball team.
The middle child, Garrett — a student at Washington State University, also graduating in May — is further developing his non-profit organization, LEAD Green, to cultivate high school students to become leaders in Fallon and communities beyond.
Kalt is passing the torch to Sherry Wideman, whom will serve as interim Comptroller. She has been with the Comptroller's Office for 10 years.
"I have confidence in her," he said. "She will put forth the positive work we've done and take it to the next level and make it better."
To clear out an office full of golf flags, recognitions, Fallon memorabilia, cherished photos with local figures and of his children is a bittersweet time for Kalt.
Although he's packing up his office, Kalt doesn't plan to leave Fallon any time soon. After retirement, one of Kalt's plans is to be more involved with his son's non-profit, and work for POOL/PACT a local government insurance consortium beginning January.
"What I'll miss the most working at Churchill County is the people and the passion they have to do the right thing," he said.
Spending 25 years — and counting — of helping others in the local community also made a difference in his life.
"People would say to me, 'what great, positive impact you made on the community'," he said. "But really, the community made a great, positive impact on me."