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New hires at county river authority

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Photo by Carolyn B. Edwards
Drusilla Meier and Levi Sparks have joined the staff of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater Conservation District.

Two new scientists have joined the staff at the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater Conservation District (BCRAGD) General Manager Dave Mauk announced last week. Drusilla Meier comes on board as an aquatic biologist and Levi Sparks will oversee water quality and environmental issues.
"In the past, the district has been criticized for not making science-based decisions," said Mauk. "Our very qualified staff helps us make sure our decisions are based on scientific data."
Sparks, a native of Rotan, will receive his master's degree in December from West Texas A&M. His under-grad studies included majoring in wildlife biology and mass communication. His master's is in biology with a specialization in fisheries.
The former football player said he became interested in BCRAGD when he met Sharon Sloan, wife of the district's board president Don Sloan, at a Cajun Fest a few years ago.
"She was manning the 'Save Medina Lake' booth and asked me if I would sign their petition," said Sparks. Sloan soon filled Sparks in on various water issues facing Bandera County and he wanted to learn more.
"I grew up on a farm and ranch and thought I wanted to be a vet, but I realized dogs and cats were boring for me," he admits. When he went on a fishing trip with some friends in high school and they asked him to identify a fish, he began to realize his interest in wildlife, especially wildlife with fins.
Meier graduated from Schreiner University with a degree in biology. She plans to go to veterinary school hoping to deal with large animals. This stint with BCRAGD will give her valuable work experience with somewhat smaller animals and plants.
Meier, a native of Clive, has had a lifelong interest in creatures, having informed her mother at the wise old age of five that she wanted to "grow up to be an entomologist."
We're hoping Meier will get involved with the Bandera Gun Club's shooting team, since she won the women's world skeet championship with the 12 gauge in 2012.
Meier will be the face of the district since she will be manning the front desk to help patrons who come into the office.
Sparks and Meier fill staff slots formerly filled by Sarah Schlessinger and Roy Chancy.
Other scientists who remain on the staff include biologist Michael Redman who handles well permitting and nuisance reports; hydrogeologist David Jeffery, in charge of well-logging; and Morgen Ayers, biologist, who handles water conservation and community outreach. Former staffer Kayla Rohrbuch has been on leave to complete her master's degree at Texas A&M. She will be back in the office shortly as the watershed protection coordinator.
Jeff Jilson serves as the district's operations manager, backed by 26 years in the Special Forces.
"We have more mandated rules and regulations now," said Mauk. "Our county population continues to grow. That means more demands for water. Our scientists will help us deal with those changes and those demands."
The public is always welcome to stop by the BCRAGD offices at 440 FM 3240 with any questions they might have about water quality testing, well plugging or well drilling rules and regulations. Report possible violations of rules or incidents of pollution to the district at 830-796-7260.