Hawthorne native Mike Trujillo is the director of public works in Mineral County. After working for some years in the mines, Trujillo started working as an equipment operator for public works in 1989. “It took me 20 years of work here before I became director,” Trujillo said.
The county entity has 11 employees and is in the process of hiring an office manager.
Unlike some counties, Mineral County separates its public works and public utilities departments. The public works department maintains over 600 miles of paved and gravel roads, along with maintaining the county’s vehicles, buildings, cemetery and airport. “Last year I also got the parks. I’ve got seven different budgets,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo says he enjoys what he does, but the job has its own challenges. “Keeping the parks green and weeded is difficult. We’ve got one guy who takes care of Lions Park, the little league field, the convention center and Lady Bird Park. He also cleans the bathrooms at both parks, so he doesn’t have time to do much of anything else,” Trujillo said.
“It’s pretty challenging for him to get everything done,” Trujillo added.
Another employee is responsible for the library, the courthouse, the cemetery and the old courthouse. “Those things take a lot of his time. We sometimes hear complaints about the cemetery not being green or the weeds not getting done.” Trujillo said.
“They don’t understand that one guy is trying to to do everything, and it’s tough. It’s probably one of the hardest jobs in the county,” Trujillo added.
Trujillo’s philosophy toward his people is simple: “I spent a long time working my way into this position. I never ask my employees to do anything I didn’t do myself while working my way up,” Trujillo said.
One of the most rewarding things about the job includes procuring equipment and improvements for the county without dipping into county funds. “Eric Hamrey and I got together and worked out a deal with the Forest Service where we maintained some of their roads. We made enough money to buy a backhoe for the county with no cost to Mineral County taxpayers,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo also lists procuring new fuel tanks for the airport as a rewarding project. “For the past 15 years, no one has been able to get new tanks; it’s the last thing the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) wants to fund. “We’re one of the only airports in Nevada with fuel tanks funded by the FAA,” Trujillo said.
On a personal level Trujillo enjoys pursuing his hobbies of hunting and photography. He also works as a hunting sub-guide for his brother Victor Trujillo. Last hunting season Mike Trujillo drew a Bighorn ram tag and got second place and a silver belt buckle for biggest ram in the state.
Trujillo also credits his foreman for helping make the job easier. “He helps me out with everything. He’s the kind of guy I can leave in charge when I’m gone and not have to worry,” Trujillo said.
In another few years Trujillo plans on retiring. “I should have enough to retire on in a couple of years. I want to make sure Eric (Hamrey) is prepared to take over,” Trujillo said.
When Trujillo retires he plans on moving to Reno to spend more time with his children and pursue his hobbies. He also said he’s young enough that he may get back into equipment operating.
One of Trujillo’s priorities before leaving is the county’s children. “I really want the parks to look good for the kids and make sure the swimming pool is maintained. We don’t want to go downhill from here,” Trujillo concluded.