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Packed House in Tucson, Arizona for Energy Round Table Listening Session with Rural Utilities Administrator

Sorry Mr. Wolfe. As it turns out, you actually CAN go home again…and John Padalino recently did.

Padalino is the Administrator for the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a branch of USDA Rural Development. Born in south Tucson, Padalino grew up along the border where his father was a customs agent. Recently he was back in Tucson to facilitate a Rural Development Energy Round Table.

The round table was filled to capacity with participants that represented small businesses, solar companies, utilities, community action groups, tribes, contractors, and local governments.

The lively dialogue revolved around USDA’s renewable energy programs. Padalino began with a thumbnail of the various program areas—Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP), bioenergy, broadband/telecom, electric, and water. Participants gave input on how the programs are working for them…and were able to ask specific questions about projects and programs.

“This is when government works the best,” said Padalino, “when officials can have an open dialogue on how the programs are actually fitting the needs of users.”

Following the dialogue, Padalino and Arizona State Director Alan Stephens drove to Benson, Arizona, where Padalino was the keynote speaker at the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) Generation and Transmission Conference.

While in Benson, Padalino received an email saying that President Barack Obama had just officially made him the administrator of RUS. He had been serving as acting administrator. The email encouraged him to get sworn in to the position at the earliest convenience.

Following the AEPCO conference Padalino and Stephens toured the USDA funded Tin Town wastewater project site with Bisbee Public Works Director Tom Klimek.

Arrangements were made to have the Bisbee City Clerk swear-in Padalino the following morning.  In Council Chambers the next morning City Clerk Gloria Gonzalez conducted the official swearing in.

“Being appointed by the President of the United States and then being sworn in to such a senior position is a memorable event under any circumstances,” said Stephens. “It was made even more so that this Arizona native could do so in the Bisbee City Council Chambers.”

Following the swearing in, Padalino and Stephens visited the Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee where USDA had made a $7 million direct Community Facilities loan to remodel and expand the facility. They toured the new state-of-the-art emergency room.

Before heading back to Tucson for his flight back to D.C., Padalino and Stephens toured the Center for Academic Success and the Sunnyside Fire District’s new fire station in Douglas. Both projects were funded by USDA.

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