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Hooton honored for long service

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Salt Lake City employees packed the city council chambers Tuesday night to honor longtime public services director LeRoy W. Hooton Jr.

Hooton is retiring after 49 years of service to Salt Lake City, including 28 years as director of public utilities.

The council unanimously passed a resolution recognizing Hooton for his "service, professionalism and dedication to Salt Lake City and its residents." Hooton received a standing ovation after the resolution was passed.

"It's overwhelming," he said of the honor, "and I certainly appreciate it."

In 1983, Hooton implemented a comprehensive watershed protection plan, including the Canyon Watershed master plan, which was approved by the council in 1988 and updated in 1998.

In 2004, the department strengthened its watershed protection efforts by initiating the Keep It Pure Campaign, an educational and community-wide effort focusing on preserving valuable watershed lands and improving water quality.

Under Hooton's leadership in 1982, the public utilities department implemented the city's wastewater facilities plan, which enabled the city to meet its obligations under the Clean Water Act while keeping sewer rates among the lowest in the nation.

Hooton's leadership also resulted in securing substantial additional water supplies and directing the expenditure of over $408 million in capital improvements, both of which will ensure Salt Lake City residents have adequate supplies of this resource at least until 2025.

"Many generations will look back and thank Leroy for what he's done for this community," Mayor Rocky Anderson said.

Hooton is being succeeded by Jeffry Niermeyer, who has more than 29 years of experience in water resources management in Utah and Alaska.

Niermeyer has been with Salt Lake City for 16 years, including 10 as deputy director of public utilities.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com