By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun News 09/13/20.
Dr. Jorge A. Garcia, P.E., may not have known it at the time, that when he drove down from Utah to start work at Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) in 1989 as a utilities design engineer, he was in it for the long haul. However, after 31 dedicated years, the Las Cruces City Council bid Dr. Garcia a fond farewell by cementing his continued legacy and recognition of his service, with his name on the City of Las Cruces’ (City) new water quality laboratory at 2845 West Amador.
At the September 8, 2020, City Council meeting, Assistant City Manager David Dollahon introduced Resolution 21-043 and saluted Dr. Garcia’s service, and his family – wife Rhonda Skaggs and children Jorge and Sonia – along with Dr. Garcia’s love of cycling and older cars.
“I still have the truck I drove down here with,” Garcia said, after receiving the well-wishes and congratulations of the Council, which resolved unanimously to henceforth have it known as the Jorge A. Garcia Water Quality Laboratory.
Dr. Garcia earned his degrees from Utah State University: doctorate degree in civil engineering, a Master of Science degree in civil engineering, and a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural and irrigation engineering. Garcia is also a certified government performance manager and a licensed professional engineer in New Mexico and Colorado.
“It’s a well-deserved accolade,” District 5 Councilor Gill Sorg said, applauding the “well-run” Utilities echoed by District 4 Councilor Johana Bencomo who both serves on the LCU Board, and District 2 Councilor Tessa Abyeta Stuve.
District 3 City Councilor Gabriel Vasquez, who also served previously on the LCU Board along with Sorg, said, “Dr. Garcia made the Utilities seem easier than it is, with a wealth of knowledge able to answer to every obscure question.”
Vasquez suggested that perhaps Dr. Garcia might join LCU once more, this time as a valued member of the LCU Board, which was seconded by District 6 Councilor Yvonne Flores.
As director since 2001, Dr. Garcia was instrumental in the creation of the LCU Board of Commissioners and the rate setting process. He oversaw the acquisition of the Jornada Water Company and the associated water rights. As both Utilities Design Engineer and then Chief Utilities Engineer, he helped with the establishment of 10 City water wells and associated pump stations; installation of the first computer-based supervisory control and data acquisition system; and the establishment of the East Mesa Water Reclamation Facility and purple pipe distribution system, among many, many other projects that still impact the quality of the City services.
Mayor Pro Tem and District 1 Councilor Kasandra Gandara expressed the joy from the board about the proposal. “I jumped to say an absolute yes to this resolution,” she said. “When I first got elected, what stood out to me was how well-run Utilities was and the caliber of staff that you put together. I’m thrilled that you have left such a legacy Dr. Garcia.”
Mayor Ken Miyagishima closed with an emphasis on Dr. Garcia’s long service and the improvement that he gave to the lives of the city’s residents. He said, “It’s been a great contribution to the city, and this is only a small token of our appreciation. Thank you.”
LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Former Utilities Director Dr. Jorge Garcia, P.E., (left) and Mayor Ken Miyagishima, (right) stand together for the presentation of the Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award presented on August 26, 2020.