SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After 31 years with the South Tahoe Public Utility District, General Manager John Thiel is pulling anchor and heading to southern California to be the new general manager of the West Valley Water District. A national recruitment is underway to find his successor.
On June 1, the district’s board of directors unanimously approved Resolution No. 3247-23 honoring Thiel for his 31 years of service. Thiel began his career at the district in 1992 and worked his way up from staff engineer, senior engineer, principal engineer, engineering department manager, and finally to general manager in 2018. The resolution highlighted Thiel’s role in strengthening relationships within the community and expanding the district’s data drive approach to prioritizing the repair and replacement of aging assets. During the presentation of the resolution, Board President Dave Peterson recognized Thiel’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Caldor and Tamarack fires, and the winter storm events.
When asked about his biggest accomplishments, Thiel responded, “I have been successful by working well with others. Together, we have achieved a tremendous amount over the last three decades, for the community and the environment, by working together to build and improve our systems, our staff, and our partnerships.”
As an engineer, Thiel was instrumental in developing a powerful in-house engineering department, designing and building over 100 projects, and facilitating grant funding for critical projects. As general manger, he accelerated the capital improvement program and advanced a high performance, customer- service-focused, and cost-effective public utility.
“Our staff is our greatest resource, and we are their partner in their own career advancement,” recounts Thiel. “In recent years, we have had both record numbers of retirements and record numbers of internal advancements, and we continue to attract top quality staff externally.”
Thiel worked with the board to evolve the district as a visible and proactive community partner.
“One of my main goals upon becoming general manger was to build effective relationships and productive partnerships,” said Thiel. “When I started at the district, many agencies were viewed as obstacles. Now, perceived adversaries are allies and we are working together on projects and programs including sustainable power, workforce housing, fire and storm resiliency, and obtaining record amounts of state and federal funding.”
At the end of Thiel’s run as GM, the district remains one of a few public utilities that recycles 100% of its wastewater and 100% of its biosolids, administers a groundwater sustainability agency, irrigates for alfalfa production and cattle ranching, produces hydropower, and – by the end of the year – solar power to offset plant energy needs.
In closing, Thiel reminisced, “I have been incredibly fortunate to call Tahoe my home for so long, to have had such a successful and fulfilling career at the district, to have raised my son Andrew in such a magical place with such wonderful people, and to have experienced the many gifts of Lake Tahoe. Thank you, farewell, and best wishes on an even better and brighter future ahead.”
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Alterra Mountain Company announced on Thursday, June 1, that it has entered into an agreement to purchase Idaho’s Schweitzer, further expanding the company’s portfolio in the Pacific Northwest by joining Crystal Mountain in Washington. The addition of Schweitzer will bring the company’s portfolio to 17 year-round mountain destinations throughout North America.
Schweitzer is the largest ski area in Idaho and Washington, located in the Selkirk Mountains overlooking the picturesque town of Sandpoint, Idaho, only 80 miles from Spokane, Washington. This beloved destination offers 2,900 acres of big mountain terrain with stunning views of Lake Pend Oreille, Washington, Montana, and Canada and is often recognized for its renowned tree skiing and family fun.
“With an incredible mountain in one of the most beautiful settings in the country and a world-class operating team, Schweitzer has everything we look for in a destination,” said Jared Smith, president/CEO of Alterra Mountain Company. “The mountain has been a valued partner on the Ikon Pass for several seasons, so we’ve been able to see the exceptional team, community, and opportunities for continued investment up close.”
Tom Chasse, who has been with Schweitzer since 2006, will stay on as president and CEO. He will continue to oversee daily operations of the destination as well as future capital improvement plans, which include the development of the new Schweitzer Creek Village portal, adding approximately 1,400 additional parking spots with easy access to the new Creekside Quad lift. Eventually, Schweitzer Creek Village will also be home to a new day lodge and other skier amenities.
“Since becoming an Ikon Pass partner in 2021, we’ve had the good fortune of learning how Alterra Mountain Company has quickly evolved into an industry leader,” said Chasse. “The company’s commitment to preserving the authenticity of their mountain communities while investing in the overall mountain experience is what we’re most looking forward to as the newest member of the Alterra family.”
In the last decade, Schweitzer has invested over $100 million in capital to fortify itself as a premier destination in the Pacific Northwest, including terrain expansion and new lifts, a new on-mountain lodge, Sky House, and Humbird, a 31-unit boutique hotel in Schweitzer’s village.
The MKM Trust, which has been the owner and developer of Schweitzer for the past 18 years, will retain non-ski operations and real estate holdings, and will continue to lead future real estate development projects that support the vibrancy of the Schweitzer community.
There are no changes to Ikon Pass 23/24 winter access at this time.
The transaction is expected to close later in 2023, and is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. More details will be released once the transaction has closed.
STATELINE, Nev. — Lake Tahoe’s Weidinger Public Relations was presented with awards for two campaigns dealing with sustainability and environmental efforts by the Public Relations Society of America, Sierra Nevada Chapter during the organization’s recent 2023 Silver Spike Awards.
WPR conducted an effort targeting the spread of aquatic invasive weeds in the Tahoe Keys Marina. The firm worked with staff and consultants from the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and the League to Save Lake Tahoe on an educational outreach campaign emphasized with the public and in more than 150 media outlets. It outlined the scientific data and efforts behind the Control Methods Test — various treatments toward long-term solutions to control the abundant growth of invasive and nuisance aquatic weeds threatening the lake. The Lahontan Board and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency both unanimously approved the plan which was activated last summer.
For the Lake Link campaign to introduce South Shore’s free microtransit shuttle service, Weidinger PR designed a comprehensive media and public relations program to name, brand and establish the app-based, on-demand service. In its first month of operations more than 20,000 riders utilized Lake Link. The coverage of the campaign resulted in an audience of 30 million, 96,800 estimated views and 11,000 engagements.
The Sierra Nevada Chapter of PRSA identifies campaigns for outstanding achievement, far-reaching client results, and high standards for quality of work and ethics. The designations celebrate northern Nevada’s best communications practices and professionals of 2023.
“The awards represent success for our clients, always the No. 1 goal, as both campaigns achieved desired and measurable goals,” said Phil Weidinger, chief incite officer. “What they represent for our team is an ongoing and consistently high level of quality, results, and professionalism.
“When you’re recognized by your peers it means a great deal,” added Weidinger. “In addition to the awards, we received a few nice comments from fellow practitioners including, ‘Weidinger always wins awards,’ and ‘WPR continues to lead the way.'”
Weidinger Public Relations, a five-person firm with offices in Stateline since 1985, specializes in hospitality, travel, tourism, recreation, golf, real estate, special and sporting events.
STATELINE, Nev. — The 18th annual Tahoe Bike Month begins Thursday, June 1, with a full month of bicycling events throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Hosted by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition, Bike Month is a basin-wide celebration of biking and a friendly competition to see which individuals and teams can record the most rides. There will also be weekly prizes given out via drawings, so everyone who records a ride has a chance to win.
“We’re excited to bring people together for the 18th annual Tahoe Bike Month,” said Nick Speal, board president of the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition. “Everybody has a different way they like to ride their bike, whether it’s up a mountain or across town, and Bike Month has something for everyone. Maybe this year you can try riding somewhere new!”
As always, Bike Month kicks off with the annual bike path cleanup in South Lake Tahoe from 5-7:30 p.m. June 1, followed by a happy hour. Participants will receive bike swag such as bike lights and bells when they ride their bikes to the event. Sign up and choose your cleanup location at www.clean-tahoe.org/bike-path-cleanup.
Local elementary and middle school students are also encouraged to get involved in Bike Month by riding their bikes to school. Students who walk or ride their bikes to school on select dates will receive bike month prizes. Volunteers will be rewarding students at Incline Elementary School, Incline Middle School, Lake Tahoe School, Kings Beach Elementary School, and Lake Tahoe Environmental Magnet school on Friday, June 2 and at Tahoe Valley Elementary School, Bijou Elementary School, Sierra House Elementary School, and South Tahoe Middle School on Wednesday through Friday, June 7-9.
In preparation for bike and walk to school days, TRPA staff taught nearly 200 fourth grade Lake Tahoe Unified School District students how to bike and walk safely. The interactive Safe Routes to School lessons reviewed the rules of the road and how to properly fit a bike and helmet. These students are now well equipped to safely ride to school in June and beyond.
Community members are invited to participate in the annual Bike Month competition by registering at www.tahoebikemonth.org, connecting their account with Strava for free, and tracking their bike rides throughout the month. Participants can join as individuals or create a team and start recording rides. Each ride during the month of June is an entry to win local prizes. Check out leaderboards here: www.tahoebike.org/bike-month-leaderboard. Businesses can also get involved by providing discounts to customers that arrive by bicycle. Those businesses are featured on the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition website.
In addition to tracking rides on the website, there are several fun bike events happening all month long around the Tahoe-Truckee Region. Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition and South Lake Tahoe Library will be hosting a bike kitchen event every Friday in June, alternating between the South Shore and North Shore. Community members can bring their bikes to the bike kitchen and learn valuable mechanic and tuning skills. Visit the website to learn more about the bike kitchen events, bike path cleanups, America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, Bike to Work days, the Tahoe Mountain Bike Festival, and more.
Whether you’ve been riding bikes for years or are new to the joy of life on two wheels, pump up your tires and join us for a great lineup of events. Check out this short videoto help you get your bike ready to roll. Remember to share the road when driving and biking around the region. Be aware of an increased number of families riding on the road and make sure to give enough space for bikers.