By Joe Naiman
Village News reporter 

FPUD making plans for 100th anniversary


Last updated 11/10/2020 at 12:34pm

On June 5, 1922, the Fallbrook Public Utility District was incorporated. FPUD has begun the process of planning for the district's 100th anniversary.

During FPUD's Oct. 27 board meeting a 5-0 vote created an ad hoc committee which will engage in more detailed planning activities. The board also approved an agreement with Jeff Crider to research and write a book on the history of FPUD.

"We're really excited to celebrate our district's rich history," said FPUD public affairs specialist Noelle Denke. "The Fallbrook Public Utility District has a very rich history."

FPUD also hopes to host an open house in June 2022, possibly in collaboration with community partners. A 100th anniversary logo is also part of the preliminary plans.

"There are so many things that we can do," Denke said.

The 2022 open house is contingent upon coronavirus restrictions being lifted, but those restrictions eliminated visits to schools and the student art contest for the FPUD calendar and thus conserved public affairs budget money for the 100th anniversary activities. "We will be doing this within the existing budget," Denke said.

Denke joined FPUD's staff in November 2002. She had previously been with the Riverside Transit Agency and was involved in that agency's 25th anniversary celebration in March 2002.

Crider will be paid $24,000 for his work. "He'll spend about a year researching all of this and then putting it together in a book," Denke said.

"There's a lot of historical material that I need to go through to come up with the book," Crider said.

"The objective here is to put together a really good book for the community, a book that people will want to read," Crider said.

The research will involve reviewing FPUD archives and interviewing former general managers, board members, community leaders, and those involved in Fallbrook history. Crider will also visit venues where historic newspaper articles about FPUD are available.

"All of our history does not exist in one place," Denke said.

"This book for Fallbrook is going to be my seventh water agency history book, and I'm pretty excited to be able to work on this because it's a different area of California for me to focus on and there's some interesting history," Crider said.

Crider approached FPUD after learning that the district's 100th anniversary was approaching. "I actually reached out to them because most people don't know I exist," he said.

"We just talked about it a little while and felt this was a good way to celebrate our centennial," Denke said.

Although he has not previously written about FPUD, Crider has some familiarity with the community. "Years ago I worked for the Press-Enterprise and I was based in Temecula, so I became familiar with Fallbrook," he said.

Crider lives in Palm Desert and for the past seven years he has been writing history books about water agencies. "I had never thought about a water agency history book," he said. "It's something that I had never planned to do, but it's something that just evolved."

His first book was about the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District. "In writing the history book for them it was a great opportunity for me to learn about engineering," he said.

While he was working on the book Crider also learned about water history.

That book ended up in the classroom curriculum at the University of California, Riverside, the University of California, Los Angeles, and California State University San Bernardino. "It's nice when you spend a lot of time doing research and you have people actually using your research," Crider said.

Crider's 2018 book on the Coachella Valley Water District, which provides service to where he lives, won a California Association of Public Information Officers award. "That was kind of cool," he said.

"The one on the Coachella Valley Water District won a pretty prestigious award," Denke said.

The chapters in Crider's books resemble a newspaper or magazine feature story. "I try to make it as interesting and as readable as possible," he said. "They're very accessible to the average reader."

Crider noted that most members of the public would prefer to read about economic history rather than infrastructure, so he focuses on the economic perspective. "It makes it more interesting for the average person," he said. "The idea is to make them really interesting and readable and accessible."

The research will include historic articles from local newspapers. "I love digging through that kind of information," Crider said.

Working with the community will enhance Crider's book on FPUD's history. "It really is helpful having mentors surrounding me," he said. "These are the people who can help lead me to the treasure troves of information that I might not find on my own."

FPUD staff will assist Crider in reviewing FPUD board packets and other documents. "I will look through the materials that they have," he said. "Newspapers are very helpful, but it's always good to see what the district has as well."

The research will be complemented by oral accounts. "I'll be looking for the best quotes I can to make the history come alive," Crider said.

"This project is going to be a lengthy project," Crider said. "It's not going to happen overnight."


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