Chester Public Utility District appoints new board member

M. Kate West
Staff Writer


The Chester Public Utility District board of directors has a new member.

At a Tuesday, Feb. 25, special meeting, the board unanimously approved the addition of Garn Pringle to fill the open seat.

The fifth seat on the board had been vacant since Joe Waterman’s departure. He resigned as a director after successfully completing the district’s hiring process for the position of general manager. He has been working in the position of a 12-month contracted employee since Dec. 1, 2013.

Members of the audience attending the meeting likely found the board’s process to be both highly transparent and informative.

Board member John Knopp had requested that the board complete all phases of the candidate applications in open session. Board members Wes Scott and Barbara Montandon fully endorsed the suggestion during the district’s regular monthly meeting Feb. 11.

District residents Pringle and James Kooyman were the two candidates who interviewed for the position. Each candidate was asked to summarize his background experiences and then responded to questions asked by the board members.

Ultimately, Montandon made the motion to appoint Pringle to the board and the board voted unanimously in favor of her motion.


Garn Pringle

At the start of the individual interviews board president Wes Scott advised each candidate that he had prepared a list of questions, and primary among them was learning why the candidate was interested in serving on the board.

As Pringle listed his reasons he cited the loss of his own and the public’s trust in the district.

“I have been a participant at many of ongoing board meetings and have offered constructive input, much of what has been put into practice,” Pringle said.

“I am interested in being a member of a forward-thinking district board and I appreciate the opportunity to speak,” he said.

Pringle said he believes he can be a positive, contributing factor to the board. He has been a full-time resident for the past nine years and has been visiting the Lake Almanor Basin since the 1970s.

“With all you are doing do you have time for us?” Montandon asked.

“That’s a good question,” Pringle responded. “I believe that if you make a commitment you fulfill your responsibilities.”

“You have been an active member of the audience for quite some time,” Knopp commented.

“Why now and not two years ago? What’s the difference?” director Ben Thompson inquired.

“Two years ago my business was in a different mode,” Pringle said. “I like to use my expertise and I have some skills I think would benefit the board.

“I also wanted to see how this board would proceed. There are still some issues I feel need to be addressed. Now I can see the board is remaining transparent and I feel I can assist with this,” Pringle said.

He said he is very interested in the sustainability of the fire and ambulance services.

Pringle spoke highly of Waterman and said, “I feel a succession plan is necessary — it’s not too early to start and I believe Joe needs to be back on the board,” Pringle added.

He said about his other qualifications, “I’m a good planner and I pride myself on my people skills. I have good experience with budgets and trends and cost control. Acting as liaison with bargaining units is also part of my background.”


James Kooyman

“I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and I ran my own businesses for the past 35 years,” Kooyman said.

Among his experiences he said he managed a $12-million-a-year trucking business.

“I managed the budget, equipment purchases, goals for equipment purchases and sale of assets,” Kooyman said. “My biggest involvement was on the maintenance side making sure we didn’t spend too much and had enough to meet the need.”

He also advised the board he didn’t know a lot about the utility district.

“My experience is with regulations and regulators of the Public Utility Commission. I owned a trucking business and hauled throughout California,” Kooyman said. “From a business standpoint, I understand the different budgetary things that need to be done.

“I understand on the other side of coin is that you serve the community and while you are trying to make money you also have to spend money to serve,” he said.

Kooyman moved to the community in 2010 and has been a permanent resident of the district since that time.

“With multiple openings on the board over the past few years, why now?” Thompson asked.

“I was originally interested in the general manager position but Joe has it and is doing a good job. I thought I could contribute by serving on the board,” Kooyman responded.

When asked if he had questions himself, Kooyman said, “I’ve never been involved with boards and the issues I am concerned about are: What are your liabilities and how much time do board members volunteer beyond the monthly meetings?”

Kooyman was advised that the district’s insurance covers board members and that much work by all parties is necessary to help the board reach its goals of getting the district fully on track.

In addition to letting the board know he is aware of many of the issues it is facing he also advised he would be starting as the new manager of Payless Building Supply in Susanville on March 3.

At the conclusion of the interview director Knopp asked if the board would be moving into closed session to discuss the candidates.

“No, these are public interviews and a public process. The next step is for someone to make a motion for one of the candidates and perhaps we have more discussion,” Scott responded.

“This will be a tough decision; both candidates are qualified and interested in sitting on the board,” Knopp said.

“I am pleased with this level of quality and the willingness to sacrifice on behalf of the board,” Scott added.

After the selection of Pringle as the new board member, director Montandon encouraged Kooyman to continue to attend district meetings.

“Would you be willing to apply again in the future?” Knopp asked Kooyman.

“Yes,” he replied.

Waterman then suggested to the board that Kooyman would be an asset to committee work.

When asked if he would have an interest in serving the district in that capacity, Kooyman smilingly responded, “Yes.”


More about Pringle

Pringle has a degree in human resources and business management and continuous education in the areas of management practices and principles in human resources, financial management and productivity.

He worked as a manager for 34 years with a Fortune 500 international company.

He additionally worked for 10 years as a worldwide consultant for management training and development associated with new facility construction, plant expansion, plant closures and general productivity assessment in 14 different countries.

He is professionally trained in Kepner-Tregoe problem solving, decision-making, situation appraisal, performance coaching and development of key competencies, value-added analysis, strategic planning and budget preparation and variance analysis.

He also co-authored a book on cost control, then implemented this strategy in 44 worldwide facilities.

Pringle is recognized as the owner of the Lake Almanor Fitness Center.

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