Mark Beck, a farmer with 10 years of experience as a vocational agriculture teacher, was selected on Tuesday for the vacant seat on the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District board.
Beck was chosen in a 3-1 vote of the North San Joaquin board to replace Fred Weybret, who resigned in June after 33 years on the board. Bryan Pilkington cast the lone dissenting vote.
Beck was sworn in by North San Joaquin attorney Karna Harrigfeld and then took his seat as a voting member for the remaining three hours of the meeting.
"We need your address so we can give you a sympathy card," board member Joe Mehrten quipped.
Beck was one of seven people to apply for Weybret's seat, which will expire in November 2010.
"I feel very fortunate that we had so many strong candidates," board President Tom Hoffman said.
In addition to Beck, Larry Mackey, Eileen St. Yves and Martin Church, of Acampo, and Neal Colwell, Fran Forkas and Richard Prima, of Lodi, applied for the position. They were interviewed at a special board meeting last week.
Born and raised in the Lodi area, Beck, 35, moved to Acampo at the age of 3. He is a 1992 Galt High School graduate who attended Modesto Junior College and received his bachelor's degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Beck grows corn, alfalfa, clover, grain and hay at several locations in San Joaquin, Sacramento, Stanislaus and Calaveras counties.
In a letter to the board prior to last week's meeting, Beck said his vision for the district is to complete General Manager Ed Steffani's 10-year plan to install pumps and other infrastructure needed to pump water out of the Mokelumne River and replenish the area's groundwater basin.
Beck added that the district's controversial groundwater charge, approved in 2007, is necessary at this time in order to build infrastructure needed to pump more water from the Mokelumne River, recharge the Lodi area's parched groundwater basin and maintain local control of area groundwater.
During board discussion Tuesday, Mehrten and John Ferreira said they preferred Beck, while Hoffman supported Prima and Pilkington wanted Church. Hoffman then voted for Beck in a 3-1 vote.
Ferreira said that Beck is a major stakeholder in the district and has a good knowledge of district operations.
While stating that there were so many qualified applicants, Pilkington said the new director should have a connection to rural areas outside Lodi. Prima and Colwell will be valuable resources for the district to tap, Pilkington added. Ferreira added that Prima and Colwell would be good managerial material should the need arise someday.
In other action- The North San Joaquin Water Conservation Water Conservation District board approved sending a two-page letter expressing concerns about a package of Delta-related bills pending before the state Legislature.
The bills were authored by State Sens. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hill, Joseph Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Assemblymen Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles.
Concerns included how the Delta would be governed, authority of the Delta watermaster, state water fees and lack of responsibility for protecting Delta levees.
- The board approved the design for a fish screen required by the California Department of Fish and Game so the district cam pump water from the north side of the Mokelumne River and called a special meeting for Sept. 8 to consider a negative declaration for the project. Construction is scheduled for the second half of September.
- The board expressed its desire to jointly meet with the Lockeford Community Services District board to discuss why the Lockeford board recently voted to not pay an $11,000 groundwater charge to North San Joaquin.