Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly (left) returns as president of the board of directors for the Idyllwild Water District and Peter Szabadi (right) continues as the vice president.  
  Photo by JP Crumrine

Schelly and Szabadi re-elected president and vice-president

Directors for the Idyllwild Water District kept the same board leadership in place for 2019 and confirmed the selection of a new, but refurbished, general manager last week.

Michael Creighton, new general manager for the Idyllwild Water District.
Photo by JP Crumrine

Their colleagues recommended that directors Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly and Peter Szabadi remain as president and vice president, respectively.

Preceding that decision, the board unanimously appointed Michael Creighton as the new general manager, replacing Jack Hoagland.

Creighton is on the faculty of the water department for Mt. San Jacinto College and has a consulting firm. As a consultant, he has done work in Southern California, including for the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in Temecula. However, in the 1990s he served on the IWD board, including as president, and Idyllwild was his residence.

During this time, he worked at Eastern Municipal Water District until he retired in 2001 and resumed  teaching at Mt. San Jacinto College as coordinator of the water technology program. 

“I know the community well and have a good sense of the issues,” he said. “I am excited about coming back here and will be spending time in the field. I’m very confident I can handle this job.”

The board encouraged Creighton to arrange a meeting or more with the community and the district’s customers to introduce himself.

The board had planned to also appoint a chief operation officer, however, the selected candidate, Joel Sears, ultimately declined the position.

Sears was recruited as the COO, but the board agenda indicated that the job title would be changed to field supervisor.

Director David Hunt felt the district should keep that job title since it has a chief financial officer. Director Steve Kunkle and his three other colleagues favored the field supervisor title and voted to change the title, while making no changes to the job description.

Since the board had decided to recruit for both positions, Hunt also urged the board to re-open the search for a field supervisor, but all concurred that Creighton, as general manager, should assess the need to fill this position.

In financial business, CFO Hosny Shouman reported that finances were in good shape. Both the water and sewer departments had positive balances through the first half of the fiscal year.

The board also agreed to reimburse GNW Construction of Idyllwild for $2,233 of added costs incurred while building a weir on Lily Creek near Foster Lake. The project encountered several unexpected obstacles, such as trash backfill, unanticipated grading and less favorable soil conditions requiring larger footings and the associated concrete. Hunt abstained from the vote, citing a family relationship with GNW.

In water business, IWD produced 5.2 million gallons in December, which was 1.6 million or 23 percent less than December 2017. For the full year, IWD’s water production totaled 90.7 million gallons, which was only 440,000 gallons less than a year ago.

The water loss percentage for December dropped to 8 percent, about the same as January 2018 and half of the past few months.