Emotional farewell for Harry Norris
In a special meeting before the regular meeting Nov. 14 the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution praising outgoing Director Harry Norris.
“I find that you have been the most frugal member of this board,’ said Director Bill George. “This board has been criticized. We’re not perfect. We’re as perfect as five guys from diverse backgrounds can be.”
Norris, who lost the election to Alan Day the week before, was emotional after being praised by his fellow board members.
“I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I really appreciate all these kind words. It’s been a really great eight years. A couple of years ago I tried to leave this board and become a supervisor. What the heck was I doing? It’s been a learning curve. The first year I didn’t know what I was doing,” Norris said.
“One of the things he prides himself on is his courteous response even to people who disagree with him,” said Director George Wheeldon. “The new board member’s got a long way to go to match Harry’s record.”
“Your statement you’re not here to represent only El Dorado Hills, but the whole district — I really appreciate your recognition of your broad responsibilities,” said Director John Fraser.
“I can remember nine years ago I heard about this guy in El Dorado Hills running for the board. I stumbled into his gas station. I asked for five minutes,” Director George Osborne said, adding that the conversation went on for an hour and a half until Norris said he was about to run out of gasoline and had to order some more. “I went home and told my wife, ‘This guy’s a keeper.’”
The resolution recognizing “exemplary service by Harry Norris” passed on a 5-0 vote, despite Norris wondering aloud, “Should I abstain on this?”
The resolution recapped his career, including wining two bronze stars in the Vietnam War as a platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division in 1967-69, being a founding member of the El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce and later recognized by that same group as Citizen of the Year. Norris ran the Union 76 station in El Dorado Hills for 25 years, later opening a second one in Folsom. Before winning election to the EID board he served 10 years on the El Dorado County Board of Education and was the 1999 “Leader in Boardsmanship” and awarded the “Spirit of Boardmanship” in 2003.
Not mentioned was Norris’ motion at the rate hike hearings last year for the general manager to find an additional $1 million in budget cuts, which he did after the other directors agreed with Norris.
Monday Norris praised GM Jim Abercrombie, now in his second year running EID, praised District Counsel Tom Cumpston as “the glue that holds the district together.”
Then he praised his fellow board members — George Osborne for having supervised thousands in his previous career as a Cal Fire Chief, George Wheeldon as the scientist who understands the wastewater treatment process, John Fraser for his career as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies and Bill George for being very analytical and saying the most by speaking the least.
Community leaders who came to praise Norris included Board of Eduction member Heidi Weiland, representing Superintendent of Schools Vicki Barber, Supervisor Ray Nutting, Apple Hill grower and fellow Marshall Hospital board member Gael Barsotti and attorney Dave Combellack among others.
“Three years ago you said the ratepayers in El Dorado Hills shouldn’t have to pay for recreation. Now we pay our own way,” said EID Recreation Manager Cheri Jaeggers.