From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):
Steve Vandiver’s final meeting as Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD) general manager on Tuesday was peppered with emotion as attendees wished Vandiver well in retirement and expressed their gratitude for his decade of service at the helm.
“What a pleasure it’s been to work with Steve Vandiver as the district manager,” said long-time RGWCD Attorney David Robbins. “He’s been a true leader.”
He added, “He’s advanced the interests of everyone in the Valley significantly.”
Robbins said the new building the district recently completed is a testament to Vandiver’s ability to see the future clearly and move forward . The April 19th meeting was the district board’s first opportunity to meet in the new facility, which was ironically Vandiver’s last meeting as general manager.
Cleave Simpson is the new general manager, and he thanked Vandiver for his guidance during the transition process.
“Thank you for your leadership ,” Simpson told Vandiver. “You set the bar pretty high.”
RGWCD Program Manager Bob Phillips added, “A large part of the success of Subdistrict 1 is on account of Steve Vandiver.” He said he appreciated working with Vandiver, adding “you are a wonderful asset for this community .”
RGWCD Board President Greg Higel told Vandiver, “Thank you for everything you have done. It’s been a pleasure.”
Vandiver is only the third manager since the district was formed in 1967, following Franklin Eddy and Ralph Curtis. Simpson will be the fourth in that nearly 50-year history.
Vandiver acknowledged the staff members who have worked with him and proven their dedication to the district and its mission for the Valley.
“I have been privileged to work with the highest quality staff,” he said, adding that he knew he was leaving the district in capable hands. He also acknowledged Robbins’ law firm and Davis Engineering for their “incredible help to me and the district.”
He thanked Ralph Curtis for leaving the district in such excellent fiscal shape that it was able to build the new structure it is in now, and he thanked his predecessor at the Division of Water Resources, Mac McFadden for his service and his friendship.
Vandiver said it had been a privilege to serve as the general manager for this board. He previously served as the long-time division engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources and moved almost immediately to his new position at the RGWCD.
Vandiver said since its formation in 1967, the water district has taken on projects that no other entity in the Valley could have accomplished alone, from the Closed Basin Project to the Rio Grande Natural Area and the fight against AWDI.
“It’s been a progressive, thoughtful board from 1967 to now,” he said. “It’s been an amazing group of individuals .”
He commended the district and its board for bringing so many diverse groups together.
“I think that’s probably one of the most important things this group does is provide a forum for a lot of people to come together and work together for the betterment of this Valley,” Vandiver said.
He said there have been a handful of people who have thrown rocks, and he was not sure why, but so much more can be accomplished when people work together to address problems.
Vandiver acknowledged the dedication of the late Ray Wright and Doug Shriver “who didn’t sit around and wait to see where the chips were going to fall; they got up and they did something for the betterment of the Valley.”
Attendees making reports to the water district board on Tuesday thanked Vandiver for his service and commitment to the water community.
“It’s been a tremendous pleasure working with you,” said Allen Davey, engineer for the district.
Travis Smith, who has served on state water boards with Vandiver, said he has worked with Vandiver since 1978 and shared many great memories with him, like the spilling of Elephant Butte Reservoir in 1985.
“Steve, thank you for your friendship.”
He added, “Steve has served the Valley and the state of Colorado at a high level.”