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KID taps Henley High grad as manager

Klamath Irrigation District will have a new manager in place by mid-February, pending acceptance of an offer to hire Gene Souza for $95,000 per year.

Souza, who will retire this month from his director of operations post with the U.S. Army in Virginia, intends to return to Klamath Falls in the first or second week of February if he accepts the position. He is a 1989 Henley High School graduate, and plans to relocate his family’s equine ranch to the Klamath Basin.

Souza brings 30 years of military experience and 20 years of leadership experience to the post, and receieved his commission as an officer from the Robert D. Clark Honors College at University of Oregon in 1999.

“Gene is returning to the Klamath Basin after nearly 30 years of military service,” said KID Board President Ty Kliewer, in a news release. “He is a strategic thinker who has honed his skills working on some of our nation’s most difficult challenges. His proven success in improving water management and irrigation projects across Iraq and Afghanistan will provide us with fresh perspectives. We are excited to have him as a member of our team.”

Acting manager Scott Cheyne will return to his role as assistant manager once Souza takes over the managerial role. Cheyne served as acting manager for about six months since former manager John Wolf took early leave in August, before his official retirement. Current assistant manager Fritz Frisendahl will move to a new role once the manager arrives, but is slated to remain with the district.

Cheyne said he’d be available to help the new manager get acquainted with the position once he arrives.

“My overall experience, I really enjoyed it,” Cheyne said of serving as acting manger. “Enjoyed working with the people that work here and I’ll continue to do that, of course.

“I’ll do whatever I need to do to help the district move forward.”

KWUA dues increase

KID board members also voted unanimously to rejoin the Klamath Water Users Association under a rate of $6.50 per acre, an increase in assessment rate of $1 per acre.

Prior to the vote, several individuals at the meeting voiced opposition to rejoining the water users association, including Brent Cheyne, former president of the KID board.

KID entered in to an executive session, which is closed to the general public, after which they voted to maintain their membership in the association.

“There’s always things that can be improved upon and I think that things are improving,” said Nathan Rietmann, legal counsel for KID, noting that improvements in communication is a valid suggestion.

“Our legal strategies and efforts are aligning and we’re going to get through it by engaging as opposed to just completely disengaging,” Rietmann added.

“More heads are better than one and I think things are moving in a positive direction.”

Rietmann, who attends KWUA meetings, said he plans to compile a report for the board on happenings at the water users’ meetings.

Audience members also voiced concerns with KID’s planning committee, and the process of appointing members. The board first voted to appoint several area residents to the volunteer committee, but then rescinded that vote, and voted to open up the process to KID patron applicants only.




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