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Like father, like son

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NRD board seat stays in the family

HARTINGTON — Bill Christensen jokes that his son, Carly, pulled the short straw.

But it wasn’t like that at all, Carly says.

The elder Christensen told his sons, Cody, Carly and Casey, he was stepping down from the Lewis & Clark Natural Resources District Board after more than 30 years of service. With that announcement, he made sure his sons knew his wish for one of them to fill his seat.

“Everybody was open to doing it,” Carly said. “It worked out probably the best for me and made the most sense for me to do it. It’s one more thing on your schedule but it’s a good thing because it directly affects your business.”

The Christensens own and operate Christensen Well in Hartington, licensed to construct irrigation, domestic, livestock and geo-thermal heat loop wells with more than 40 years of experience in water, well drilling and geology.

It’s that firsthand knowledge and experience with groundwater that make the Christensens a unique asset to the NRD Board, said Annette Sudbeck, NRD program manager.

The Natural Resources District establishes and manages resource projects in the area, including water conservation efforts, but also erosion prevention and control; soil conservation; pollution control; solid waste management; recreation and park facilities; forestry and range management; and development and management of fish and wildlife habitats.

Carly is running unopposed for his father’s seat.

Another long-time board member, Gary Howey of Hartington, will step down with more than two decades of service under his belt. Former board member Dan Kollars has filed to take his seat.

“I’m getting into too many things and stretched every which way,” Howey said. “I thought they needed some new blood in there.” Howey said when he joined the board in 1999 he did so to represent

Howey said when he joined the board in 1999 he did so to represent the city of Hartington even though many of the issues are rural ones. An avid outdoorsman, he has a special interest in natural resource conservation and the board was a good fit, he said.

Both Howey and Bill Christensen list the completion of the Aowa Creek Flood Control Project to be a major accomplishment during their time on the board.

The project was initiated by Dixon County and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the late 1960s. The project protects Ponca and Newcastle from flooding but also includes erosion control, sediment retention, wildlife habitat and recreation.

“It was a good project for flood control especially for towns. Ponca was a pretty good benefactor of that project. It did flood out a couple of years before the last dam got finished,” Bill Christensen said.

With a project on the books that long, it was good to see it through to the end, he said.

The younger Christensen said groundwater may become more of an issue during his initial term which starts in January.

“Water and the availability of it will be a hot button issue. When it’s dry, people always become very concerned about how much water we actually have. We have enough to sustain it and I think we always will. However, it’s a legitimate concern,” he said.

When he talked with the Cedar County News, Bill was hunting spring snow geese in Gayville, S.D., and said he’s looking forward to doing more hunting. He’ll always look back fondly on his work with the NRD.

“It was an easy board to work with. We never had any disputes among ourselves. We always talked everything over and came to an agreement,” he said.

Bill said he’s confident Carly will serve the board well by listening and learning, which was his own approach.

Carly said his father’s legacy of serving the board provides him with a profound opportunity and big shoes to fill.

“He’s (Bill) pretty reserved. He doesn’t say a whole lot. Everyone respected and appreciated what he brought to the table. I hope I can do the same,” Carly said.