After spending more than 25 years as its chief engineer, Joe Jackson retired from Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD) on October 1.
He began his service in 1983 as a contract employee and was hired as a district employee effective January 1, 1984. He will make Ouray, CO, his new home.
“It was my privilege to work with a community like Fallbrook,” Jackson said. “When the going got tough, the people stuck with us.”
Jackson was raised in the Texas town of 77 Ranch, about eight miles east of Wichita Falls. He obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University.
Between 1962 and 1965 Jackson worked for CalTrans District 3 in Marysville. He then worked for the Alaska Division of Highways from 1965 through 1969.
While he was in Alaska, Jackson also earned a Master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Alaska.
Jackson’s road work in Alaska included the redesign of waterlines which had to be replaced as part of the road construction projects.
Between 1969 and 1976 Jackson was the city engineer in Beaverton, OR. During that time he worked with the US Environmental Protection Agency to obtain a grant to upgrade the city’s sanitation system following the passage of the Clean Water Act.
The grant resulted in a treatment plant which could process 1.5 million gallons per day.
During Jackson’s initial residence in southwestern Colorado, he worked for the Home State Mining Company in Gunnison.
He was involved in the mining of uranium on March 29, 1979, which was the day a meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania caused a radiation leak and put the future of nuclear energy into question.
“Immediately, any interest in continuing to mine uranium went out the window,” he said.
Jackson then received a call from Genstar Construction, which was in the process of building Bernardo Heights and the associated infrastructure.
“I came out to see what was happening,” he said. “I liked what I saw.”
He bought a house in Escondido in 1980 and lived there until 1999, when he began looking for a residence closer to work.
Ironically, he purchased his Fallbrook home from Mary Lou Boultinghouse, who would become FPUD’s board secretary after predecessor Ruth Allen retired a day before Jackson.
Jackson was responsible for the building of infrastructure but not the houses themselves for Genstar Construction.
He was also with Genstar when they successfully bid on the construction of 10.6 miles of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Pipeline 5 which covered the pipeline between the Twin Oaks diversion structure and the Metropolitan Water District delivery point.
The housing depression of 1982 caused Jackson to take employment with Granite Construction, which was working on the Helms hydroelectric power plant east of Fresno.
As his work on the Helms facility was coming to a close, Jackson saw that FPUD was looking for an engineering manager.
The original Red Mountain reservoir had been built in 1947 under the supervision of George Yackey. In 1982 FPUD had applied for a $13 million US Bureau of Reclamation loan to build a larger reservoir.
“At the time there was a great deal of enthusiasm for drought-proofing,” Jackson said.
Jackson had hoped to start his FPUD career with Red Mountain and leave with the Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project, but the draft environmental impact report and the feasibility study for the Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project aren’t expected until November.
“I would have liked to have seen something accomplished,” Jackson said.
“It’s as close as it’s ever been,” Jackson said of the Conjunctive Use Project. “It’s either going to happen or not going to happen fairly quickly.”
Jackson has four children, including the youngest who will live in the Fallbrook home Jackson still owns.
“That makes moving easy and makes coming back easy,” Jackson said. His other children live in Reno and Portland.
Jack Bebee replaced Jackson at FPUD. Bebee was given the title of engineering and planning manager and will also take over the duties of planning manager Mike Page when Page retires.
Jackson added that working with other FPUD employees also constituted a highlight of his career.
“We’ve always had a very cohesive unit here with keeping our mission in mind, and it’s been my privilege to work with these folks,” he said.