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North San Joaquin Water Conservation District sees leadership changes

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Tom Flinn

Joe Petersen

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:13 am, Fri Dec 28, 2012.

Joe Petersen is leaving the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District board, and Tom Flinn, former county public works director, was appointed Thursday night to replace him.

Director Joe Valente took on the position of board president.

Petersen said he has done what he wanted to with the district. It is now politically stable and in the black financially, goals Petersen outlined at the beginning of his term two years ago, he said.

"We made some tough decisions this year. They aren't healthy for the district in the long term, but we needed to make them so the ship could stay afloat," Petersen said.

One of those decisions was to reduce the watermaster position to part-time. Former watermaster Rick Cropper did not take on the job for the 2012 season.

Petersen will not step back from the board entirely. He remains on two subcommittees working with Woodbrige Irrigation District to consider moving water through WID pipes to the city of Lodi and to North San Joaquin customers.

Now, the job is to find more projects that are both cost-effective and put surface water to good use, Petersen said.

The board gathered for the last time this year on Thursday, the first without Petersen as president. From his seat in the audience, he offered guidance to help the board transition to its new leadership.

The board did not ask any questions of Flinn during the interview period. He was unanimously appointed as director for Division Two without opposition or comment from the public. That region stretches along the southern border of the district from Ham Lane to the Clements area.

"As far as I'm concerned, reading his resume, he is well-qualified," said director Hugh Scanlon.

Flinn has lived in San Joaquin County for 25 years, and was appointed the San Joaquin County Public Works Director in 2001. He retired in 2011 and lives near Victor. Flinn said he wanted to join the board to help protect agricultural interests in the Delta.

"We have some very knowledgeable members of the agricultural industry on this board," he said. "I can bring in my perspective from the county."

Flinn and Valente were sworn in for the 2013 term by director Mark Beck.

Beck will continue to serve as vice president. Flinn took on the role of secretary, while Scanlon will continue as treasurer. Toni Miller, seated in the audience, was appointed undersecretary to help with the minutes should Flinn not be able to fulfill his duties.

Meetings will continue to be held on the final Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Lodi Public Library.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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