Dayle Williamson, Gayle Starr

Interviewees:


Interviewee Gayle Starr, Assistant Director, SWCC, NRC and DNR, 1960s - retirement

Gayle Starr

Position Held: Assistant Director, SWCC, NRC and DNR, 1960s - retirement
Interviewee Dayle Williamson, Executive Secretary/Director, SWCC and NRC; Assistant Director, DNR, 2000 - retirement; Agriculture Representative for Sen. Ben Nelson, 2001 - 2012

Dayle Williamson

Position Held: Executive Secretary/Director, SWCC and NRC; Assistant Director, DNR, 2000 - retirement; Agriculture Representative for Sen. Ben Nelson, 2001 - 2012

Full Interview:


Interviewer(s):

Jim Barr

Associated NRDs:

All

Transcript:

MR. BARR: This is Jim Barr, introducing -- or working on the NRD Oral History Project, going to interview Dayle Williamson and Gayle Starr. It's April Fool's Day in 2013. We're located in Lincoln, Nebraska, for the interview.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, thanks, Jim. As we were sitting here getting the recorder going, we -- it was just a happenstance I thought that on April the 1st, 1969, the NRD law passed. So, we're 44 years into the NRD legislation. So, this is unreal. Well, my task here today is sort of to tell some of the very early history, how the idea came about. And as I remember, I was working with the commission. I was the assistant secretary, assistant executive secretary, along with Warren Fairchild, who was the executive secretary. One day, he said, “Dayle, we need to go out to the University. Clayton Yeutter is going to give a talk. He was in the Economics Department, and he's going to talk about districts in California, and we ought to listen to that.” So, we went out there, and Clayton had a whole presentation about the many, many overlaps of districts in California. And it really excited Warren, because we had that same overlap in the State of Nebraska. As I came on board with the commission in 1958, my job was to organize watershed conservancy districts as the law had just passed. Watershed conservancy districts were sub-districts of soil and water districts, although the watershed conservancy districts had a taxing power and the soil and water conservation districts did not. But the watershed conservancy districts, even though they had a taxing power, some of them were very, very small and their levying authority just wouldn't pick up the amount of money that was needed. And we were really pushing the federal public law PL-566 watershed program at the time. And so, we needed to find a funding mechanism. And so, that was the initial thrust, to figure out how these watershed conservancy districts and soil and water districts could start to reorganize and get some money, get financial assistance into the program. And then, we moved on and, lo and behold, began looking at drainage districts that hadn't been in operation for some time, and just all kinds of different districts out there. And we even looked at reclamation and irrigation districts early on, because there was still a great overlap. And those districts did have some authority to raise funds. So, that was a major issue, and there was a lot of overlap. And so, even though a lot of overlap existed in California and I'm sure every state, Warren Fairchild recognized the great overlap in Nebraska and said, “Something has to be done.”
MR. BARR: Well, actually, Dayle, what were some of the early steps after you had the idea germinate?
MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, some of the early steps, our association of soil and water conservation district, they were very active. We had a real good, strong board on that. But we knew that they really liked the association, and we knew that the districts really liked their own operation, because some districts were better funded than others and because a lot of them had their own projects underway. Some of them had construction equipment. A lot of them had grass drills. And so, that's how they made their money and they liked it. Other districts weren't nearly that active, but they had a nice social event each year by having an annual meeting where they brought in the people and presented them some pictures. And it was always nice. We had a lot of fun going to those. So, the big issue was, how do we approach the association of soil and water conservation districts to help them get behind some of the ideas to do this? And that was a challenge. Warren Fairchild was a great salesman, I tell you. Nearly every person on that board would, after a while, when they thought about it, they started giving support that we needed to have some type of reorganization. And it was their job. We were divided into eight different areas. It was their job, then, to begin working with the districts in their area. And so, that was a challenge too. Our state staff was mighty small. And so, we couldn't work with all 87 districts, or 87 soil and water districts. We were pretty busy still trying to organize watershed conservancy districts. I can't remember when the last one was organized.
MR. BARR: When did they start thinking about legislation to formalize this consolidation into the Natural Resource Districts?
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. As I recall, it probably took about a year after we heard Clayton talk about that, because, luckily, we didn't go out the very next day and say this is what had to be done, because we knew there was a big selling job there because anytime you're going to change boundary lines and do different organization. So, a lot of the effort was done through the association and through their annual meetings. As far as our commission itself, some of the same people were on both organizations, and I can't ever recall the commission, having any major problems with it. They gave the staff the go-ahead to do that, and it was mainly the association that we worked through, as I recall.
MR. BARR: Would you -- What year do you think this kind of got started? We can look it up.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. I would say in, oh, probably '66 or '65. Yeah. Yeah.
MR. BARR: Do you have some idea?
MR. WILLIAMSON: I bet '65. Yeah.
MR. BARR: Okay.
MR. WILLIAMSON: 'Cause it took quite a while. There was --
MR. BARR: Do you remember when LB1357 was introduced?
MR. WILLIAMSON: Oh, it was introduced in '69.
MR. BARR: Okay.
MR. WILLIAMSON: It was introduced in '69.
MR. BARR: So, what kind of activity happened between '65 and '69 that kind of laid the groundwork for the legislation?
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yes. There was a lot of activity, because that was the major discussion at the annual -- always at the annual meeting of the soil and water districts. And that was always a big annual meeting, and it was well attended. Nearly every district would have representatives there, and some would have several. So, when you had 87 districts and other affiliated organizations, it was a good-sized meeting. And that was the major issue for a couple of years. And I can't remember, I suppose it was in the '68 meeting when we had the final thrust, where it was really close. And we had a gentlemen from DC that had helped organize the -- a lawyer that had helped write the old soil -- the conservations district law. Phil Glick, a lawyer from DC, was here and he helped sell the idea.
MR. BARR: What kind of opposition did you find?
MR. WILLIAMSON: There was always a certain amount of opposition, and a great deal of the opposition came from the Soil Conservation Service(SCS). The chief employee from the SCS was a conservation district work unit conservationist, and was in charge of a county district. Some, were in charge of two counties. They could really run their programs really well with their five-member board. And so, they were worried that their program may not be carried on if it was expanded. So, we could get along good with district supervisors when we got them all in a big bunch. We always had area meetings. And they'd go home pretty enthused, and a few weeks later, they'd come back a lot less enthused. And I would say, “When was the last time you talked to your work unit conservationists?” And, in fact, they'd even admit that he'd asked them to come in. And the state conservationist was really pushing, too, on that, because he didn't think this was a very good idea. After all, it's been working this way. Why change? And people resist change.
MR. BARR: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: And so then, some of the districts got a lot more active. It was very interesting. Southeast Nebraska, they were some of the early districts in the early group that didn't want districts in the first place, and it turned out they were such an active area, doing all kinds of good things. But, again, they resisted going into a bigger area, and they had all kinds of watersheds and everything. But it was just something.
MR. BARR: Who were some of the early supporters of the NRD idea?
MR. WILLIAMSON: We had very stalwart supporters. The people I can think of, Milton Fricke from the Papio District, he always hung in there. Warren Patefield from up in the Laurel vicinity, he was on the association board. He always --
MR. STARR: Warren Patefield.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Oh, Warren Patefield, yeah. Excuse me. Warren Patefield. I'm glad that was corrected. And he was always there. We had Wes Herpoldshimer from out in the Kimball area. He always seemed to be supportive. They were a little bit leery in that area. Wes was a contractor. He did a lot of work. And a farmer, and he could see those expanding. Oh, we had a number of people that were always very supportive early on that I remember. Yeah.
MR. BARR: Gayle, would you like to add some things here and give Dayle a little rest?
MR. STARR: Sure. Well, my earliest recollections, Jim, don't go back as far as Dayle's. Mine came a little bit later. I started with what was then called the Soil and Water Conservation Commission in 1965, I believe it was. And I was part of the state water planning group that was another one of Warren Fairchild's ideas he developed. And one of the first things that we were involved in was some recommendations about water resources in Nebraska. And one of them resulted in a publication called, I think, Modernization of Multi-purpose Districts.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. STARR: That was a different name than natural resource districts, multi-purpose districts. And that outlined a number of ways in which districts could be consolidated, the types of districts that did exist, what their authorities were, and so forth. So, that considered a number of types of districts that were not eventually involved in the consolidation, like irrigation districts, drainage districts, for various pretty valid reasons they weren't included. And somewhat involved in that, 'cause I always attended the commission meetings, and somewhat involved in some of the earlier things. The primary introducer of LB1357 was Senator Maurice Kremer from Aurora. There were other names on the bill, but he was the primary introducer. And after the bill got introduced, there was certainly considerable discussion, opposition, questions raised, et cetera. And while Maurice was a real leader in natural resources, he was, how to say this? He was not a strong individual in terms of really pushing things hard in the legislature. And he had some concerns about, you know, can this really happen? And I recall him coming to a one of our commission meetings and saying, “Tell me what to do. If you vote that I should go ahead with this, I will go ahead with this. If not, I will drop it.” And the commission voted by a pretty narrow vote, I think it was, like, four to three or five to four, to go ahead with it. And Senator Kremer said, “Fine, I'm with you. I'm going ahead with it.” Well, I think had we had some different legal advice at the time, in accord with the commission's statutes, that probably was not a passing vote. 'Cause I think it required a majority of the commission, not just a majority of those that were there. And so, that probably would have been a failing vote if Mike Fischer, or Jim Cook, or Lee Orton had not been there to advise. So, that's one of my early recollections. And then, we went into the, you know, it finally has been mentioned, it passed on April 1, 1969, and then we went into starting with implementation. But as time went on, there were a number of amendments proposed, some adopted, some not adopted. One of the significant earlier things was to draw up the boundaries of the districts. And there were a number of iterations and, finally, one that the commission finally said, “Okay, this has worked,” was, I believe, 33 districts. And for whatever reason, the legislature said something, like, “That's not right, and if you can't do the job, we'll do it.” So, I think they went out and held a hearing, a committee of the legislature, probably the Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing in all 33 districts and come back and essentially said, “We can't do it either. Try it again.” And so, that's why they came up with the 24 districts, and there were some other compromises in there in terms of some of the specific districts that happened that eventually led to the adoption of the 24 districts. But there were a lot of other things that had to be done. There were the establishment of what was called an interim board, which was all of the existing ones plus there were added some municipal representatives. And I think every community of maybe 800 or 1000 or something like that got one representative appointed by the mayor, and so forth. So, there were some boards, the Nemaha, for example, that was enormous. I think 150 or something like that.
MR. WILLIAMSON: A hundred and fifty-four, I think.
MR. STARR: Something like that. A huge board. But -- And which, you know, is a convention. It's not a board. And so, some of them selected an executive committee to do the work for them, and we went out and had meetings with all of the districts around the state. And there were some of them that were pretty hot. They were pretty hot in the areas where there was significant opposition. I hate to pick on the Nemaha, but the Nemaha was where there was the most opposition. But there was other opposition, no doubt. And, some of it, was very valid. And then, some of it, at least in my opinion, was not very valid. So, we moved on from then to July 1 of 1972, when the districts came into effect. And we, frankly, had some concerns that some of the districts wouldn't do anything. They just wouldn't do anything. But they all did. They all went ahead and selected an executive committee, determined how many board members they were going to have. Consolidated the resources of all the existing districts, which was a difficult thing because some districts had a significant amount of assets, road graders, bulldozers, grass seeders, whatever, and some districts had virtually nothing. And so, it was, kind of whether the rich can get along with the poor. But, fortunately, that all took some time. Some of those assets in some of the districts weren't actually consolidated for several years after the original organization. And districts moved on then and most hired a manager. Some had a manager of a preceding district who kind of moved into it. Others hired people that had no experience at all. And I think, for the most part, a pretty good bunch of managers, some of which are still there as the managers. Two or three, I believe, are still there.
MR. BARR: You want to add anything for that period, Dayle? One question would be, what were some of the special purpose districts that did not -- that were -- ended up not being included in the natural resource districts that there had been some discussion of including?
MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, we had quite a discussion, 'cause -- about irrigation districts and reclamation districts. And there was tremendous objection to that. And so, those were not included. The Farmer's Home Administration, we were putting in a lot of rural water districts at that time. Farmer's Home was making loans to them, and they really liked their rural water districts, and they really objected to the natural resource district. And so, there was a compromise there. Those existing districts, as I recall, did not go in, but there weren't to be any future rural water districts, other than those that would come under the leadership of a natural resources district. So, that was one thing. The drainage district thing was really interesting because drainage districts started soon after Nebraska became a state. And drainage district law was always on the books, and some drainage districts were in existence but you couldn't find any records or anything. And so, drainage districts were encompassed in that, too, but not taking up the old drainage districts that had a lot of legal problems, so to speak, and a lot of financial problems, but when drainage issues came along in the future. So, that was a lot of the discussion. Just finding some of those districts, you know, we were very familiar at the state level with the soil and water districts and the watershed conservancy districts. So, those are the ones we had worked for. And under the state water planning effort, we became quite familiar with the reclamation and irrigation districts so I know Warren Fairchild would have liked to have seen them involved in that too. But that was going a little beyond what our multi-purpose districts were doing.
MR. BARR: What kind of political machinations were involved in taking it from introduction to passage? Do you have any recollections, either of you?
MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, yes. And naturally, people against it would talk to their senators, which they should. That's 'cause they're the ones that did the voting. And so, we definitely had senators against it. And you always wonder about the people for it, how vocal they would be. Maybe they weren't quite as vocal as the people against it sometimes. That's often the way it goes. And in the interview today, Gayle has mentioned Senator Kremer and what a great person he was. People would beat on him really hard, since he was the lead person, and I recall him coming to our office on more than one occasion and saying, “I think we just need to give up. We just can't make it 'cause we're really getting a lot of heat down here.” And maybe I have to give a lot of credit, maybe, to Warren Patefield up there. His senator was Jules Burbach. Jules Burbach would hear that Senator Kremer, and they were good friends, the Senator would be at our office thinking about quitting and then Jules would be right up there and say, “Oh, we can't quit now.” And then, he'd go find Senator Kremer. Our offices were really close. We were in the Capitol, and they were just down the hall from us. So, we had a lot of meetings and people would sit around and say, “Oh, we'll do this. Let's change this a little bit. Let's go.” And so, Senator Burbach was quite active in that. And it got involved in politics a lot because Senator Burbach wanted to be governor then, too. And so, he was running in the primary against a person name J. James Exon. And Burbach was for the NRDs. J. James Exon sided in with our heavy outside components, Mr. Gove and Mr. Matulka. And so, it was a very interesting primary, and Jim Exon won the primary, of course, and later got elected governor. And so, we had a governor against the NRDs when they were coming in. But, it wasn't long that he found a way to support the NRDs.
MR. BARR: Speaking of the governor's office, was the previous governor's office involved any in this process?
MR. WILLIAMSON: The previous governor's office was highly involved in the process because I had mentioned Clayton Yeutter, and Clayton, at the time we were going through this, was the governor's administrative assistant. Our governor at the time we were going through this was Norbert Tiemann. And since he was the father of the sales tax and the income tax, he was the father of the NRDs too. I mean, he pushed NRDs pretty hard because it didn't take Nobby Tiemann very long to pick up an idea and run with it. So, he was a strong supporter. We knew that he'd support it. So, that was the thing. And we even had some issues between state agencies. Because Mr. Doug Bereuter, he was down in the planning agency, and we were setting up some different elements there, and I think Doug always liked the idea, but he wanted to see a lot different configuration. So, I remember those two agency heads having a lot of discussions. I was just sitting back there listening.
MR. BARR: I might just comment briefly on this because I went to meetings on the districts both with Mel Steen, when I was with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and with Doug Bereuter, when I was with the state planning office. And all three of these agencies were coming up with their own set of districts. And that was, basically the issue, was the districts they were all concerned were going to be so much different. And Doug's was always on political boundaries, and the natural resource districts were always on hydrologic boundaries.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. BARR: -- By and large. And so, that was the basis of the disagreement. I remember, Gayle, you and I going to a meeting in Governor Tiemann's office, and I was trying to think of the name of the Roads Director at that time. Nuernberger (Marvin) or something like that?
MR. WILLIAMSON: I think that was right.
MR. BARR: Anyhow, we got to the governor's office and he was just saying, “Well, I just finished a meeting with one stubborn Dutchman, and now I've got one,” with Doug Bereuter. And you and Warren Fairchild were there and Doug and I were there. I don't know what we ever resolved out of that meeting, but I'll let Gayle comment on that.
MR. STARR: I won't comment a lot on the meeting, but I do remember one thing that the governor said. He said, “When I got elected governor,” he said, “I assumed, you know, that there was one state government, and I soon came to understand that there are really three state governments. There's the Department of Roads, there's the University of Nebraska, and there's the rest of us.” I might comment, Dayle was talking about earlier the districts that were not included in the consolidation but were prevented from forming new ones, in other words, the rural water districts and the drainage districts, and that any new ones had to be sponsored by the NRDs. The NRDs, at least a half a dozen of them, have sponsored rural water supply areas, mostly around the eastern part of the state, to where both water quality and water supply are an issue. And some of those are fairly large and cover a fairly big area. So, that's been an impact that they've had. And then, there have been, I think, a couple of drainage districts have, in fact, merged with NRDs. Have allowed them to be taken over. As was commented earlier, some of the drainage districts were not very active to say the least. And I remember a lot of those drainage districts were either along the Missouri River or along the Lower Platte River in the Dodge/Saunders County area, and so forth. And I remember one telephone call I made to the county clerk in Dodge County about a specific drainage district because the counties were supposed to have records because they collected the taxes that were levied on the various landowners and so forth and they would have those records. And so, I asked her about a drainage district, whatever the name was that I don't remember. And she looked at her records and said, “Well, yeah, that drainage district exists,” you know. And I said, “Well, who could we contact to find out about this drainage district?” And she looked and found the record and read off the names of four or five people, the directors, and she made a pause and said, “You know,” she said, “I think all those people are dead.” And so, I said, “You mean there's really no drainage district there?” And she said, “Well, probably not.” She said, “I'll take it up with the county board.” And what happened, I don't know, but I assume it was probably dissolved for lack of interest. So, that was an interesting thing that happened along the way. And I would just echo what Dayle just said about Senator Kremer. He was a fine gentleman and it may not have happened had he not been in there to do that. But he was a very fine gentleman. And, also, about the election, the primary election for governor was between Burbach and Exon. There were some that said, and I have no idea if this was, in fact, correct or not, but some said that had the NRDs not been happening at that time, that a different person would have been elected as the Democratic candidate for governor. And who knows? We'll never know.
MR. BARR: In a related area on groundwater, there were some groundwater conservation districts?-
MR. STARR: There were. There were.
MR. BARR: How did that get to be resolved?
MR. STARR: Mostly in the Blue basin and mostly on a county basis. York, Clay, Fillmore, I think, all had groundwater districts, and their financing mainly came, I believe, through the county boards, the county board of commissioners in each county. And they had an association, I guess you would call it, an individual who was their director headquartered in York, I believe, who did some things and those districts had really no authority, if I recall. They could collect information, groundwater measurements, quality, and groundwater levels, and that type of thing. And there was some conflict, I guess, there that they didn't want to be included and were not included for whatever reason. And eventually, particularly the Upper Big Blue NRD in York and the groundwater association became very closely involved with each other. They work together, as far as I know, very well. And the groundwater districts, for the most part, I think they all just dissolved at some point, and I don't know if that was by their own county commissioners or by state legislature. I don't know.
MR. WILLIAMSON: I think so.
MR. BARR: I can't remember either. I can't remember if it was a formal thing or not. We can ask John Turnbull probably some time.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, I'm glad we picked up the idea of groundwater districts, 'cause that was so important. And as I recall, the groundwater district association was something that the university pushed a lot. And Deon Axthelm was highly involved with the groundwater districts. Although he always supported the idea of natural resource districts, he was a little bit like the Soil Conservation Service, he didn't want us to fiddle around too much with his groundwater districts. And the groundwater districts at that time, like Gayle had said, really only had the responsibility to do measurements, you know, water level measurements. But it was a good start. So, at least, we got an early record. And I'm sure the Conservation and Survey Division was highly involved in that because the director of that division was a member of our commission. So, he was highly involved with the groundwater districts and provided a lot of advice too. But as I recall, a gentleman in Ag Engineering, Deon Axthelm, really pushed the groundwater districts.
MR. BARR: Could you just describe the makeup of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission at that period of time, in terms of the numbers and just the -- who they represented and that sort of thing?
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. I think Gayle mentioned before. I don't remember the numbers too well. But we did have several people from the original law as part of the university on -- the Director of Extension, the Director of Conservation and Survey, and Dean of the College of Agriculture. We had three. And as we came through the law in additional detail, why that was sort of a conflict of interest. So, those people no longer stayed on the commission as the NRDs progressed.
MR. STARR: DWR Director too.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Pardon me?
MR. STARR: DWR Director too.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Dan Jones was our DWR Director. And Dan was always pretty positive on things. You could see another agency probably fighting it. I never remember Dan fighting it. His responsibility was to the irrigation districts and the reclamation districts. Those were the big districts he worked with, and I'm sure he got a lot of flak when Warren Fairchild started talking about taking those in. But Dan was always such a gentleman and another gentleman who worked with him, Marion Ball,they were like Senator Kremer. They just wanted to work things out and compromise and work together. And it was always pleasant. No matter that we had a lot of discussion. Why no one was ever really mad at one another. Well, we were always mad at a couple of guys, but that was all right. And they weren't in government.
MR. BARR: Anything else?
MR. STARR: I would just add a little bit about the makeup of the commission. The commission, and the other members of the commission were selected through the state association of soil and water conservation districts by areas throughout the state. And I don't know if there were six of them or seven. Something like that. And then, there was one member elected, the watershed districts had an association, and they elected one member. Bob Bell from Bellwood was that member. In terms of opposition, I don't know if this was –for sure, but we understood that the USDA agricultural type agencies, what's now the FSA and Farmer's Home Administration, certainly SCS, and I think the SCS was probably the leader in this, we understood that they met on a regular basis with the main topic on their agenda being how do we defeat NRDs. Now, we never attended those meetings, obviously, so we don't know for sure, but that was our understanding. And we did get a lot of opposition when we went out to these interim board meetings. As many of the questions that we got asked came from the NRCS, then SCS, now NRCS employees, than it did from the directors.
MR. WILLIAMSON: It's great to have a joint interview here, as Gayle brought up Bob Bell. Telling the story after the NRD law passed, Warren Fairchild decided that he had a good opportunity to go work as an assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation in Washington, D.C. And so, the commission decided, well, that I'd been the assistant for a long time, so that was my job to head the implementation effort. And Warren said, well, he'd maybe burned some bridges and so on, and he had this good opportunity. And I'll never forget, and Gayle probably remembers this too, that when Warren was leaving, Bob Bell always thought about things deeply, and he said to the whole group one day, “Well, Warren could buzz up more wood than the rest of you guys could ever cut up.” And for posterity, you know, buzz, we used to use buzz saws to cut wood. We didn't have chain saws. We'd put a whole log we could lift on a buzz saw run by a tractor and, man, would we ever cut wood. So, Warren was running the buzz saw, and the rest of us couldn't split it all up.
MR. STARR: I remember that real clearly.
MR. BARR: One of my recollections of Warren, in particular, was his philosophy on meetings. Basically, if he thought the meeting would take about an hour to wear down his opposition, he'd schedule it for eleven or four o'clock in the afternoon. If he thought it was a really big one and it was going to take all day, it would be an all day meeting. But, basically, within the last 15 or 20 minutes of whatever time he had allotted, he would figure out a way to bring it to a conclusion in his general direction.
MR. WILLIAMSON: A great guy.
MR. BARR: Anything else at this point?
MR. STARR: Along that same line, our commission meetings were often, like, at nine or ten o'clock in the morning. And if we weren't through by noon, drawing to this conclusion, Warren would say, “Well, why don't we just pick up and go over to the Cornhusker and have lunch and finish this up?” which he knew would mean it finished up very quickly. And under the open meetings law, was probably totally illegal.
MR. WILLIAMSON: That was probably before open meetings law.
MR. BARR: Oh, yes, it was.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. STARR: Undoubtedly, it was.
MR. WILLIAMSON: 'Cause when the open meetings law came in, why we felt pretty comfortable on the commission because our legal staff really kept us in line. So, I have to give them a lot of credit. I think we were probably one of the state agencies that -- in the commission, that followed the open meeting law very, very closely from an early start. And I'd forgotten the original vote that Gayle mentioned a while back on that, but that was probably right. We didn't have a majority of the commission there.
MR. STARR: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. But that's how all that got started. And so, here we are, 44 years from the date.
MR. BARR: That's -- That is pretty interesting.
MR. STARR: And that brings up a point about the vote for Maurice Kremer on that issue. At that time, we always had a concern every commission meeting about whether we were going to get a quorum to have the meeting. And Warren would always have the secretaries call around for a quorum. Well, the three university employees were not the most regular attenders and some of the other members. We always had a problem getting a quorum, but we usually managed that. But after the law changed and everything, we never had a problem with a quorum after that. Sometimes, it was even unanimous. And I might mention Vince Dreezen, who Dayle mentioned was the Director of the Conservation and Survey Division, was a supporter. I think he was one of the most for Senator Kremer to go ahead. But he had a lot of concerns.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh.
MR. STARR: Particularly with the groundwater districts and some other issues that he had. Vince and I were real good friends for several reasons. And at one point some time later, maybe 10 years after the NRDs were formed, he told me, he said, “You know,” he said, “I was always concerned about the NRDs, was not a full supporter, although I did say I supported it, but I was not a strong supporter.” But he said, “You know,” he said, “the one concern that I still have is that the districts were big enough.” He said, “And that's,” he said, “the ones that exist now,” he said, “they still should be bigger than they are,” in his opinion.
MR. BARR: Well, thank you.