The resignation/retirement of Steven Gustafson left a void in the directorship of Hawthorne Utilities, the local provider of sewer, water and landfill operation.
Larry Grant, a long-time Hawthorne resident was born in Arizona and moved to Nevada at the age of 6. Grant spent a fair amount of his life in the Nevada mining industry, along with serving a six-year stint in the National Guard. Besides mining for Silver King in Ely, Grant spent time at mines in Carlin and Elko, eventually working his way up to supervisory positions.
As the Nevada mining industry petered out, Larry’s wife, Christy Grant, found a teaching job in Hawthorne. As the couple did not wish to uproot their son during his high school years, Larry Grant stayed in Northern Nevada for three years and the family commuted back and forth until the child graduated and joined the military. At that point, Grant spent a couple of years working for himself, and the couple traveled during school breaks. Boredom eventually overtook Grant, and when had an opening.
“It was for a Distribution One Water Operator that I wasn’t really qualified for at the time,” Grant laughed and said. Grant’s employer gave him six months to obtain EPA qualification for the job. “I just started reading and studying,” Grant said. Although it was called a “water” job, Grant said much of the work entailed maintaining the sewer treatment plant and the sewer collection system along with meter reading and maintenance and other jobs. “It was a lot of labor’s work. I stayed at it about a year-and-a-half, and worked my way into a supervisory position rather rapidly—mainly because of my background,” Grant said.
Grant’s climb to director took about seven years. Immediate goals for Grant include: “Hawthorne Utilities needs a lot of restructuring. Things with the workforce can be done in a more efficient manner; I want to get a few months under my belt to get a feel for what I want to do. I’d also like some community input,” Grant said.
Grant also intends to start a Facebook page for Hawthorne Utilities. The page will contain information about utilities so customers are not required to call or come to the office to ask questions.
“A day like today, with the wind blowing, we may have to close the landfill. People can check the page and know whether to come in,” Grant said. Getting a handle on costs is another of Grant’s concerns. “Operational costs need to come down. Most of our costs are fixed; a lot of people don’t realize how expensive this organization is to run because of regulatory issues,” Grant said.
Many citizens are unaware that Hawthorne Utilities is an enterprise fund, which means it is entirely funded within itself. Hence, the occasional rate increases.
“Everything that comes into it funds the operation,” Grant said. This also explains the jump in fees for both Mina and Luning. “Sometimes it’s tough to keep running in the black, but we’ll get it done,” Grant said.