County Manager Lockwood retires after 21 years |

County Manager Lockwood retires after 21 years

County Manager Eleanor Lockwood, right, celebrates at her retirement party with her husband, Jeff, during the first weekend of May.
Julie Guerrero/Photo Courtesy

No matter how many countries and cities she’s extensively traveled and lived in around the world, Fallon will always hold a special place in Eleanor Lockwood’s heart.

The Churchill County Manager is retiring this week after 21 years of service, working in multiple roles during the course of her time.

“I’m not saying goodbye but more of an adieu,” she said. “We raised our kids in Fallon and this town was our first settlement. If you made a home somewhere, your heart will always carry a part of it.”

Lockwood and her husband, Jeff, are beginning their new chapter near the Patagonia Mountains in Santa Cruz County, Ariz.

With both of their children still living in Nevada and California, there are many good excuses to make frequent trips.

Although Lockwood said she would be back for visits, her colleagues said her presence will be missed in the community. Lockwood, along with County Commissioners, achieved many goals together.

When Lockwood moved to Fallon in 1997, she started out as an assistant planner under former County Manager Rick Sugg. By 2001, she became the Planning Director, then promoted to Senior Planner, before becoming County Manager in September 2012.

Commissioner Bus Scharmann met Lockwood during her Planning Director years while he served as Dean at Western Nevada College.

Scharmann said Lockwood was a great leader for the county.

“As a county manager and commissioner myself, one of the strengths is her organization and communication skills,” Scharmann said. “We can’t talk to each other hardly ever because of open meeting law, but she talks to us often about decisions that need to be made.”

Her colleagues also direct employees of other counties to contact Lockwood for assistance.

“When I first started my job as County Manager, I was advised to called her,” said Humbolt County Manager Dave Mendiola. “She is supportive.”

Commissioner Pete Olsen said he not only admired Lockwood’s transition but also her efforts and dedication to finding spaces to build the William N. Pennington Life Center and Law Enforcement Center.

“The first thing that strikes you is the English accent,” Olsen said. “But after that, it’s the energy. She was the center of all of her roles. She led the efforts on that and brought that facility to completion last year. She brought everything that she had, whether it was the county or local events.”

Lockwood said the goals accomplished were championed as a team, such as the Law Enforcement Center, which was in the works for more than 25 years even coming out of the recession, she said.

“I am not responsible for my accomplishments,” Lockwood said. “Churchill County has been blessed with good commissioners and planning committee. They have always been aware of assessing and managing growth. To be able to borrow money and build those centers speaks volumes of our work.”

To Lockwood, the accomplishments she made with commissioners also involve Fallon’s rural development as it’s in the right place, especially with the Naval Air Station representing as the third pillar in the economy, she said.

“You hear in some communities about the lack of team building,” she said. “But the respect of this entire community has been shown.”

During the commissioners meeting May 16, Captain David Halloran, Commanding Officer Navel Air Station, presented Lockwood a flag with 10 command coins from each command, as a token of oath.

Mission to find home

How Lockwood got to Fallon is a journey. She was raised in Ethopia and met Jeff in Botswana, Africa, as peace corp volunteers. The couple then had to part ways for a while and committed to an overseas courtship; Jeff traveled back to the states, to Utah and work for an oil station, and Lockwood returned to Australia.

But he traveled to Australia often and the couple got married in southwest England, so Lockwood’s family also could be in attendance. She moved to the states with him in 1983.

After spending some time in Washington, D.C., the couple moved to Wake Forest, North Carolina, Jeff’s home state. Lockwood began her career path as a City Planner and gave birth to their daughter, Philippa, in 1985.

Although it seems like the couple just got settled, Lockwood and Jeff decided to participate in their church’s global missionaries; in 1988, the family packed up and was assigned to serve in Burundi in East Africa to work in the agricultural department.

Lockwood said it was one of the toughest jobs they have ever worked, but they kept with it for three years. During those three years, Lockwood received her masters in Agricultural Development through the University of England, and by 1989, their son Charlie was born.

The family of four then moved to Zambia to work with a community experiencing a severe drought for the next six years; Lockwood then got involved with UNICEF and Jeff also obtained a masters from University of England.

But among the many fascinating facts of Lockwood, there’s one in particular Fallon might not know about: Lockwood was a founder of an English-based school in the landlocked country.

“There were other parents struggling to find a school for their children,” she said. “So six of us started our own in 1996.”

Located in the country’s capital, Lusaka International Community School is an English-based school with British curriculum that welcomes children from all over the world, including instructors to teach.

But then, it was time for the family to move again; Lockwood wanted a place her children could call home.

“We became friends with another couple during our time in Burundi,” she said. “We wrote each often, and they moved to Massachusetts and then to Reno. They told us about how much they loved Reno. Jeff was wanting to be in open wide space.”

In August 1996, the Lockwoods made their way out to Reno and employment was difficult to find, she said. Lockwood worked at the Wilbur D. May Museum until Jeff got hired at the Fallon Golf Course to help with agricultural and water systems.

The rest is a successful history when Lockwood was hired at Churchill County as Assistant Planner in 1997, and both of her children attended all four years at Churchill County High School.

Looking ahead with Barbee

One of the many things Lockwood will miss about going to her office is the collection of artwork along her walls.

“I love maps and photos,” she said. “Since 2012, we’ve been decorating the hallways with work by local artists.”

That also was when Lockwood became County Manager.

For the past few weeks, Lockwood has been training with newly appointed County Manager, Jim Barbee. As former Director for Nevada Department of Agriculture, Lockwood said his background will provide a great service to Churchill County.

“It will protect this town’s prime,” she said. “Fallon is a unique community with its agriculture. The water supply and economy defines its rural character.”

As Lockwood passes the torch to Barbee, she encourages Barbee to continue working with developmental growth, such as between the city and NAS Fallon.

She also said working with District Attorney Art Mallory was helpful when it came to development legalities and civil division; she is confident Barbee will experience the same assistance.

“Northern Nevada is one of the fastest growing states in the union,” Lockwood said. “We don’t like the word control but we have control of the community to assist in this.”

Commissioner Pete Olsen said Barbee is already on a roll in his new seat.

“I think he’ll be great with the county,” he said. “He’s already working on some projects. I think we got a lot of growth coming up and that could be our next challenge, but we’re ready.”

Lockwood already has her list of things to do once she moves to Arizona; she’s going to get back into playing tennis, volunteer at local museums, and then travel to Europe with Jeff and reconnect with old pals.

But Lockwood said the friendliness, respect, and comfort she found in Fallon — she won’t find anything similar anywhere else.

It’s only a adieu to Fallon, and until next time, as she stated; Charlie is a third grade teacher in Sparks and Philippa works at a medicine health shop in Santa Rosa, Calif.

“There will be challenges in every next chapter,” she said. “But in small communities, they are willing to come together.”