Darrel Leamaster retires from the Castle Valley Special Service District after 32 years as the director.
Family, co-workers and friends gather at a retirement party for Darrel Leamaster
After 32 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Emery County, Darrel Leamaster, manager for the Castle Valley Special Service District is going to retire. He began work for the CVSSD on June 1, 1977 and Sept. 11 was his last day. A reception was held in his honor on Friday at the Castle Dale park. Friends, co-workers and family gathered to visit with Darrel and reminisce about his time at the district.
Leamaster said, "I have mixed feelings and I have been reluctant to retire. Working for the district is just part of my identity and that will be lost. I do plan on doing some consulting work and catch up on my fishing and hunting. I have some remodeling projects around the house and yard to do. We want to do some traveling and eventually go on a mission. We will be watching some of the grandkids, too."
Leamaster was born on Sept. 4, 1943 to Vernon and Leora Leamaster in Price. He lived in Hiawatha until he was 1 year old. His dad worked in the coal mine there and then his dad and his uncles started a mine in MillFork Canyon in Huntington Canyon. "As a kid I roamed and fished up there and hiked to the top of MillFork. I didn't know how good I had it. I went to school in Huntington and graduated from North Emery High in 1961. The junior high and high school kids were combined and after sixth grade then the students from Cleveland joined the school, too. I attended Carbon College for two years. I worked through my high school and college years at a service station and then for Maurice Jensen at his meat processing plant. The meat plant was where Mac's Mining is today. I also worked for my dad at the mine. After CEU I went to the University of Utah to become an engineer. At first I wanted to be a mining engineer, but then changed to be a civil engineer. I wanted to build things. I wanted to be involved in building projects. I have always enjoyed building things. After three years at the University of Utah I graduated in 1966.
"In 1963 I married LaRae Guymon. We have seven children, Rick, David, Jamie, Kristi, Lori, Jalynn and Jodi. We have 22 grandchildren and one of them passed away.
"We lived in Salt Lake for 11 years and I worked for Eimco Enviro Tech. They manufactured waste water equipment. I was a design engineer there and a marketing product manager. Their product lines included air flotation equipment, filters and flocculators. I worked for Eimco for eight years. I worked for ConTroFlo for three years. I was a sales engineer for all kinds of water and waste water treatment equipment and instrumentation. I traveled around Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. I also traveled a lot for Eimco, all over the United States, Europe and Canada. But, traveling gets old fast.
"The Castle Valley Special Service District was formed in 1976. Mack Bunderson and Craig Johansen had a plan on what the district was going to do. A bond for $5 million had already passed. The whole idea was to find a legal way for Utah Power and Light to mitigate the impacts they had on the small communities. The power plants were in the county, but all the impacts came into the cities and there was no way to help them and the cities had huge problems. Utah Power was deeply involved in the process. Emery County was the first to form a special service district. In Delta, they handled it differently. They gave the communities money to help with impacts.
"The district was set-up to help with sewer, water projects, drainage and transportation. The tax rate was set at 3 mills for the operation and maintenance of the day to day operations of the district. The bond money was used exclusively for projects.
"When I took the job with the district in June of 1977, I had a desk in the Johansen and Tuttle office. We installed a phone and I started. We had nothing, but the policies were in place. After I had been here one year we got our projects going and hired people and started training. The district is divided into three different areas. Orangeville and Castle Dale; Ferron/Emery and Clawson; and Huntington/Cleveland and Elmo. Our workers stay within their areas unless we are working on a big project. There are three people in each area. We have nine employees, one office worker and a manager. In the summer we hire three or four college students to work during the summer. Our first project was the Huntington water treatment plant. They had a plant that needed some work. Ferron remodeled their water treatment plant after Huntington. We put in the sewer system for Castle Dale and Orangeville. The Orangeville sewer system connects with the Castle Dale ponds. There are four cells in Castle Dale. We did our first road project in Huntington in '78 or '79. We paved between 200 East to Center Street. We didn't want to do any roads until the water and sewer systems were in place.
"One of the projects, I've been involved which has had the most impact is the installation of the secondary irrigation systems in 1982-84 and in Cleveland and Elmo in 1985. Of all the things we've done this has had a big impact on communities and changed things so much. We were able to take out ditches and clean up the streets. We could pave and install curb and gutter. It took away the big, high flow demands off the culinary systems. It helped beautify our communities and added convenience. We did have opposition, from those who said it would never work, but those people often became our biggest supporters. This also laid the ground work for the new drainage systems. All the old sewer lines were left in place so they could be ground water drains. After the secondary was installed, then people started covering up the ditches and there was no where for the water to run. After the secondary system went in, the towns really dried up. There are homes built now where there used to be a swamp. The ditches had a lot of seepage and wasted water.
"All our projects have been great and we've used some innovative ideas. The membrane filtration system for drinking water was the first used in the state at the Orangeville water plant.
"Drinking water is a huge responsibility for the district. Everyone is impacted by the safety of the water supply. We use water every day and it affects the health of everyone. The operations of the water systems have been a big concern of mine. The water treatment systems take up approximately 40 percent of our time. There have been big changes in all of the regulations concerning drinking water. We have to send in a monthly report. Now there are tests on so many things. Samples must be gathered and sent in either to the state lab or independent laboratories. This takes up a lot of time. People aren't aware we are involved in all of that.
"One thing that concerns me as I leave the district is that we haven't tooted our own horn very much and a lot of people don't know what we've accomplished. Some people don't even know what we do. Some of the people who move in don't know anything about the district. We have tried to keep a low profile behind the cities. We have a district workforce to take care of projects, but we've let the cities decide which projects are important to them. The cities also take care of their billing.
"Also involved with culinary water is the development and redevelopment of springs. We have Little Bear and Big Bear and the Tie Fork springs. We serve the customers within the city limits and North Emery serves the customers outside the cities. We purchased Elmo and Cleveland from North Emery. We redid all the lines for Cleveland and Elmo at the same time the secondary system went in. We have cooperation between the systems and can move water back and forth.
"Another district responsibility is maintenance to current systems. Once each year the sweeper truck will sweep all the city streets. The vactor truck will clean all the sewers and storm drains. This routine maintenance makes a lot of difference, we don't have the problems like we used to. We have good dedicated employees. Several have been here since the beginning or for a long time. We have Ron Kennedy, Keith Lofley and Blaine Lofley, Dave Mangum and Duane Mangum. These men have a lot of knowledge, they know the systems and where the pipelines are.
"This job has been very fulfilling and satisfying. There's been such a variety of things to do. No day is the same there are so many responsibilities. Because, we've tried to maintain a small staff, the manager is the financial officer, purchasing agent, human resource director and planner with public relations all thrown in, it's very interesting; I've had to learn a lot of things. I've had the opportunity to serve on boards and organizations across the state. I've served on the Utah Rural Water Association for 20 years, on the safe water board and the Utah Association of Special Service Districts Board. I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of agency people, mayors, forest service, BLM, state agencies, water quality. I have a lot of contacts.
"I think I will miss being involved in the projects the most. It will all go on and I won't be a part of it. I will miss the engineers and the employees," said Leamaster.
Leamaster is leaving the district in the hands of Jacob Sharp who came on board in March. "He is doing really good. But, there are a lot of things he won't know. He won't know the histories of the projects. In the day to day operations the employees will be here to help him. Jamie Luce is excellent with the finances and the bookkeeping. She works three days a week.
"In the long run, we hope the district can continue to make improvements to all our communities. Johansen and Tuttle has helped us with a facility plan for the future and $53 million in projects have been identified for the next 20 years. Since I came to the district we have funded $66 million in projects. Forty-two million have been from the bonds and the rest of the money from grants received and interest from the bond monies.
"This year we are involved in a bond election for $12.5 million. Since the previous bond is ready to be retired the tax payers in the county won't see any type of increase to their taxes. We hope to obtain grant money to leverage the bond. It was 2001 when we had the last bond election. There are no tax increases, just an extension of the bonds. There will be two questions on the ballot. One is the bond issue and the other is to extend the operation and maintenance funds indefinitely, the tax rate will stay the same, it will just extend the life of the operation and maintenance fund.
"We have identified critical projects. We will continue with the streets, curb and gutter and asphalt, there will be some new road construction and old water lines will be replaced. The storm drains will also be finished. Future projects will also include redoing the water treatment plants in Ferron and Huntington. The life of a water treatment plant is 30 years and our water treatment plants are more than 30 years old. There are some of the towns developing areas within their towns which have no roads, water and sewer. These will be included in future projects.
"It's been such an advantage to our county to have the power plants. For every $100 paid in taxes in the county, then $83 of that comes from the power plants.
"It's been a real advantage to us to have this industrial tax base.
"Over the years, overseeing the tax money has been a real concern for me.
"We have run a very conservative operation here with our equipment and our offices. I've tried to be very careful with tax payer money. With the bond, grants and operations money we handle roughly $6 million a year," said Leamaster.