The seven trustees of the Overton Power District (OPD) began their first meeting of the year on Wednesday, Jan. 16, by standing to take the oath of office as they all started a new term on the board.
Acting board chairman Doug Waite then made a special presentation honoring the service of Overton board member Mike Fetherston, who was retiring after twelve years of service on the board. A special plaque was awarded to Fetherston, for his years of service. “I have appreciated the last eight years of being able to work with Mike,” Waite said. “It has been good to have someone who always knew what he was doing and performed his duties well. I appreciate what he has done for the OPD.”
Filling the vacancy left by Fetherston is Overton resident Richard Jones. While Jones is new to the board, he is not new to OPD. He retired in May of 2014 after a 36-year career at OPD. Jones said that he had started at OPD right out of high school in a 9-month temporary position. After that job ended, he spent six months working for Nevada Power at Reid Gardner Power Station. Then in February of 1979, a permanent position at OPD came open and Jones was hired.
Jones began as a Meter Reader, worked his way into an Apprenticeship, then became a Lineman, and later a line foreman. He retired after serving his last 10 years as OPD Line Superintendent.
Jones is confident that the district is already going in a good direction. He points to the fact that the board in recent years has been focused on paying down debt and on maintaining reliability in the OPD system. He added that he would continue to support that focus. “The OPD is just there for its members and to provide the community a reliable service,” Jones said. “That is its whole purpose and it does a good job at it. I’m just excited to be back and involved in that.”
In other business at the meeting, the OPD board voted to continue offering scholarships to graduating high school students for the 2019 year. As it did last year, the board determined to offer a total of sixteen $1,000 scholarships: eight for Moapa Valley graduates, and eight for Virgin Valley graduates. The motion to continue offering the scholarships was approved with a 6-1 vote with Mesquite’s Mike Young being the only dissenting vote.
OPD General Manager Mendis Cooper brought another matter before the board, just for their information. He explained that questions had been raised among senior OPD staff members about what the district could do to help local customers affected by the ongoing federal government shutdown. “Utilities and entities in other areas have taken steps to help those who may be affected,” Cooper said. “So, we talked about measures we could take here to give those folks a hand.”
Cooper pointed out that federal employees will eventually be reimbursed for all of their lost time once the government reopens. “So we don’t have a lot of exposure on it,” Cooper said. “These folks just need a little more time and it seems like the right thing to do.” OPD staff will make special arrangements for customers who can show a federal identification, or another proof of being furloughed as a result of the government shutdown, Cooper said. “I don’t know how many federal employees we have,” Cooper added. “I’d guess not very many. But for those that are out there, we would just let them know that we can work with them.”