GID board member calls firings a ‘joke’
June 22, 2007
A trustee for the Silver Springs GID said she was only joking when she said the employees of the district were fired.
“We were in the Silver Strike and one of the employees said they wanted to get unemployment, so I jokingly said, ‘OK, you’re fired,'” said Trudy Kolsch. “Then the manager came in and I said ‘you’re fired too.’ It was a joke. It was no open meeting.”
But it was taken seriously by the employees, said County Manager Bob Hadfield, who added he had signed statements from the manager and two employees.
“If it was a joke it was a sick joke,” he said. “One has to wonder why a comment like that would be made. They can say what they want, but obviously the employees took it seriously enough to phone us and we responded in the only way we could.”
He said he was out at the sewage treatment plant the GID operates in Silver Springs with Lyon County Utilities Director Mike Workman on Friday morning.
“We will be going out next week with Mike and his people and we’ll be going out with some of our accounting folks to assist the office,” he said. “We need to make sure that that they have everything they need to operate the plant in a responsible manner. We want to make sure the proper procedures are being followed to protect the personnel, finances and infrastructure of the district.”
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Kolsch added that she is glad it’s over and feels sorry for the residents, because she thinks they will have to pay the price.
Plant Manager Kelly Harkins, who was hired only a few weeks ago, said she was sure the firing comment was not a joke, but didn’t want to comment further.
Workman said after seeing the plant Friday it was clear the GID board was too involved in the operation.
“They were giving instructions and doing things to cut costs, but they just increased the costs,” he said. “They shut off alarm systems to save a few bucks.”
He said he would take the county’s chief operator out there Monday to find out what else the plant needs.
He also said he planned to take a look at the effluent agreement, which allows Hale Bennett, co-manager of the Silver Springs Airport, to disburse on airport property and his alfalfa field.
“We’re going to look at those discharge permits and effluent management program,” he said. “We’re going to do this by the book and what makes good sense.”
Bennett has wanted to sell excess effluent for landscaping use but Workman said the GID owns the secondary water rights and it isn’t legal to sell it, according to the Nevada Department of Environmental discharge permit.
“A lot of these changes nobody’s going to like,” he said. “But we’ll be able to bring balance back to the system.”
Workman said the plant lacked spare pumps that are highly specialized and take eight weeks to order.
“I just want to make sure all the permits are being met and let those workers operate the system,” he said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.