Frazier Park water manager dies of heart attack

  • Janice and Greg Keenberg in December 2010.[Mitch Wood photo]

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    Janice and Greg Keenberg in December 2010.[Mitch Wood photo]

  • Members of the FPPUD team, Directors Gerald McKay and Gena Bolton, Administrative Assistant Alice Garcia, Directors Gerald Garcia and Lisa Schoenberg with General Manager Greg Keenberg. Not shown, Director Rebecca Gipson. [Hedlund photo]

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    Members of the FPPUD team, Directors Gerald McKay and Gena Bolton, Administrative Assistant Alice Garcia, Directors Gerald Garcia and Lisa Schoenberg with General Manager Greg Keenberg. Not shown, Director Rebecca Gipson. [Hedlund photo]

  • Still in shock at the sudden death of their manager Greg Keenberg, the Frazier Park Public Utility District board held a meeting the next morning to confirm that district business can proceed smoothly, (l-r) Gerald McKay, Gena Bentley, Gerald Garcia, Administrative Assistant Alice Garcia, Lisa Schoenberg and Rebecca Gipson. The seat where Keenberg always sat (at left) was empty.

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    Still in shock at the sudden death of their manager Greg Keenberg, the Frazier Park Public Utility District board held a meeting the next morning to confirm that district business can proceed smoothly, (l-r) Gerald McKay, Gena Bentley, Gerald Garcia, Administrative Assistant Alice Garcia, Lisa Schoenberg and Rebecca Gipson. The seat where Keenberg always sat (at left) was empty.

  •  Lead Water Operator Jonnie E. Allison said Keenberg had been preparing him to step up to handle current projects. [Hedlund photo]

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    Lead Water Operator Jonnie E. Allison said Keenberg had been preparing him to step up to handle current projects. [Hedlund photo]

  • FPPUD Board President Gerald Garcia opened the meeting with a meditative prayer.[Hedlund photo]

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    FPPUD Board President Gerald Garcia opened the meeting with a meditative prayer.[Hedlund photo]

By Patric Hedlund

Word spread quickly Thursday morning, Nov. 29 that the general manager of the Frazier Park Public Utility District had died of a heart attack. The fact was confirmed, but there was widespread disbelief. A tall, strapping man with a warm smile and thoughtful manner, Greg Keenberg and his wife Janice have lived in Frazier Park for 30 years, raising two sons here, Dylan, 27 and Casey, 25.

The FPPUD team held an emergency meeting on Friday. Before officially opening the session, the board of directors and all personnel assembled for a “family talk” among co-workers, sharing memories of Keenberg’s friendship and their shock at the news of his sudden death. All members of the volunteer board assembled for the 8:15 a.m. special session Friday, Nov. 30.

Director Gerald McKay came out of the hospital early, recovering from a bad case of shingles, to attend. Board President Gerald Garcia is recovering from eye surgery.

Garcia said, “We are like a big family. We have been through a lot since I’ve been on this board. We lost Director David Dale, Judy Francis and now our manager Greg has been taken from us in an unexpected turn of events.”

After the personal discussion by all the staff, Garcia opened the official meeting with a meditative prayer, shifting smoothly into an inventory of the urgent business being finalized this week by the district, which Keenberg would normally have handled. The hands-on board had a long agenda Friday that lasted the full day. While they reviewed administrative details, Jonnie E. Allison, lead operator, assured them that Keenberg had been preparing him for several months to take responsibility for field operations.

Progress on Upgrades

Items the board covered included review of progress on the final 25% of a major system upgrade being accomplished with USDA funding. FPPUD has used $2.1 million in loan payments as of Friday, and is beginning on the $1.1 million grant portion of the project.

Alice Garcia, Keenberg’s assistant, quickly produced documents needing attention.

There was an emergency permit just received from the U.S. Forest Service, after months of delay, to allow upgrades at the system’s Sam Young site; coordination on Tank 5 upgrades and a new pump house; acceptance of a major payment from the USDA; coordination with civil engineering supervisors from contractor Quad Knopf and several documents to review and sign regarding the community sign project developed by FPPUD with Kern County and the Mountain Communities Chamber of Commerce.

Sign Project

Kern County, under direction of outgoing District 4 Supervisor Ray Watson, sent a quitclaim deed conveyance of three parcels being given to the district for construction of  commercial signage structures along Frazier Mountain Park Road, to be built under supervision of FPPUD. The goal is to bring the Mountain Community into compliance with county codes for off-site signage.

  • Owners advised to remove out-of-code signs

Most current commercial signs along the roadway from Lebec through Cuddy Valley are out of compliance and must be removed in the coming month.

Owners of the signs are invited to remove their signs themselves during December to be sure that they are not damaged.

Space will be made available on the new sign structures, which will be managed by the chamber, under contract with FPPUD. Proceeds will go to help maintain the Frazier Park streetscape lighting and landscaping.

The FPPUD board had to review and sign a contract agreeing to the county’s conditions. Lisa Schoenberg carefully read the county’s contract out loud to confirm that it was the district and not the chamber which will be accountable for fulfillment of the contractors’ obligations. They held a quick conference with their insurance agent on speakerphone about completion bonds and liability insurance, then reviewed bids for the construction contract and a lease with the Mountain Communities Chamber of Commerce for management of the sign project. Local contractor Gordon Construction appears to have won the bid for building the sign structures.

The board worked through the day, making brisk and orderly progress on district business.

See Greg Keenberg’s obituary.

This is part of the December 07, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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