Sunnyslope water district names new director

Don Ridenhour is the new general manager of the Sunnyslope Water District.

Former Napa public works chief replaces retired Yamaoka
Former Napa public works chief replaces retired Yamaoka

The former public works director of Napa County started this week as general manager of the Sunnyslope County Water District, which serves approximately 5,300 customers in and around the Ridgemark, Oak Creek and Quail Hollow subdivisions.

Don Ridenhour took over for Bryan Yamaoka, who retired in December after 23 years with the district. Ridenhour had been in charge of Napa’s public works operations since February 2009 and had been with the county and city of Napa in various engineering positions since 1990.

Dave Meraz, president of the Sunnyslope County Water District’s board of directors, said Ridenhour “by far stood out” among the half-dozen candidates that were interviewed for the position.

“He has great experience and his resume was impeccable,” Meraz said. “Whenever growth comes, it’s going to hit the Sunnyslope area more than the city of Hollister, so we need someone who is prepared for what happens next. He’s a real good guy and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Cathy Buck, the district’s human resource manager and finance director, said Ridenhour will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district, “including meeting with other agencies in our area and partnering to have a regional approach to mutual interests and issues.”

In addition to its water customers, the Sunnyslope district – which was formed in 1954 – has 1,210 sewer customers and manages the Lessalt Treatment plant.

Ridenhour said he took the job in Hollister in part to “get back to a more focused utility field,” rather than the wide variety of responsibilities he had as Napa County’s public works chief.

“I have a lot of experience managing a water system, so I look forward to being a little more focused instead of being spread over so many areas,” he said, noting that his new job allows him to be closer to his daughter who attends Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He also has a daughter who is a senior in high school and will be attending Cal Poly in the fall. “That was another nice bonus that added to the attractiveness of the area.”

Ridenhour will interact directly with the five-member board of directors that sets policy for the district.

“I’ve been looking at capital improvement plans and reviewing the budget to see where we are,” he said in reference to his plans for his new job. “I’m trying to come up to speed and learn the daily operations of the district before I start setting goals.”

Ridenhour said his experience as a district engineer for Napa’s flood control and water conservation districts helped him gain a general knowledge of infrastructure and utility needs.

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