By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
As Utica Power Authoritys General Manager heads back to his fulltime job at the Preston Youth Authority in Ione, the UPA is scrambling to deal with his loss.
At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening, the board called a special meeting for Friday at 5:15 p.m. to discuss how to handle the completion of UPAs burned out three-quarter mile flume without Pyles day-by-day guidance.
Pyle has been on a leave of absence from Preston since the Darby Fire decimated UPAs flume system last September. He is scheduled to return to Preston on Monday.
At UPAs board meeting Tuesday night, board member Larry Thompson said, Were making attempts to keep him here.
Board chairwoman Debbie Ponte sent a letter to Preston asking for an extension of Pyles leave, and was denied both orally and in writing, Thompson said.
He also asked for help from the state Office of Emergency Services and the office of state Sen. Rico Oller, R-Roseville. We still dont have an answer if we can keep Vern as project manager (on the flume). Were at a critical point here, Thompson said.
Pyle said he had suggested a plan where he works two days one week on the UPA project and three days at Preston, and the next week he works three days at UPA and two days at Preston, but has not received a response to that suggestion.
Pyle also told the board that Carlton Engineering can supply a project manager to complete the last section of the three-quarter mile flume. He said there is a 1,200-foot segment of the flume still to be constructed. Were looking at mid-May for completion, he said.
Before the Darby Fire, which scorched about 15,000 acres near Forest Meadows, Pyle took care of UPA business on weekends and evenings, while working at his full-time job as an electrician for Preston Youth Authority. But the damage caused by the fire required full-time attention. Pyle used up all his Preston vacation time and then took a six-month leave of absence.
The leave ends March 1.