John Dickson knew he’d get one shot to apply for this particular Brazos River Authority job opening.
He wanted to take the chance.
There have been only two reservoir managers since the BRA built Lake Limestone and the Sterling C. Robertson Dam. That says a lot about the type of position and what it’s like to work at the Lake Limestone office, Dickson said.
The chance paid off.
A new challenge
Dickson began his job as Lake Limestone’s new reservoir manager on Feb. 2, 2022. He succeeds the recently-retired Davy Moore, who served as reservoir manager from 2010 to 2022 and Dwight Mahoney, who served as the lake’s first manager from 1978 until his retirement in 2010.
Dickson brings a unique skill set and attributes that will serve him and the BRA well in this new position, said Brad Brunett, BRA central and lower basin regional manager.
“I’ve gotten to know John very well since he joined the BRA,” Brunett said. “He has been an outstanding asset for us in his property administrator role for many years now. He is wise and has a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise that will transfer well to his new role as reservoir manager. However, the best thing about John is his unique ability to work with people. This includes the full spectrum of BRA staff, landowners, elected officials, the public, consultants, regulatory agencies, etc. He is also a very kind and compassionate person who always steps up behind the scenes to help others.”
Lake Limestone, located on the upper Navasota River in Limestone, Robertson and Leon counties, is one of three water supply reservoirs owned and operated by the BRA. The other two include Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Granbury.
Dickson is no stranger to the BRA. The BRA has relied on Dickson as a property administrator for over two decades at the Central Office in Waco.
Born and raised in the greater Waco area, Dickson spent much of his youth working odd jobs at his father’s business, which centered around the banking industry. One of those days, Dickson spent a day with an appraiser and enjoyed the freedom, and analytical aspect of the profession. That was enough to prompt his future direction. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in real estate from Baylor University. He was promptly hired by a gentleman who had been recruited directly out of college by his father 20 years prior. Dickson spent the next decade with Larry Ray’s Central Texas Appraisal Company, meeting many interesting people, working on various types of appraisals, ultimately concentrating on appraisals for eminent domain purposes. Dickson has maintained a Texas Real Estate Brokers license and a Texas Certified General Appraisal License. He is also active in the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.
One day, one of those interesting people turned into a new adventure.
Moving with water
Dickson was working on an assignment appraising easements for the Waco Metropolitan Area Regional Sewerage System, then owned by the BRA. A BRA employee mentioned he was about to retire after 25+ years and said Dickson should apply for his position as property administrator.
Dickson was feeling a need to venture more into varying aspects of Real Estate and not strictly appraisal. He says he knew then that the Brazos River Authority offered stability, plus the variety he was looking for, plus the job kept him close to his extended family, an important aspect. He would later discover that the BRA attracted genuine individuals with whom he would continue to build lasting friendships.
Dickson was hired and began his career with the BRA on Nov. 4, 2002. After 20 years of managing BRA property throughout the Brazos River basin, he said he was ready for a new challenge.
The Lake Limestone office is in the midst of an extensive rehabilitation project on the Sterling C. Robertson Dam. All five floodgates will be replaced, one at a time, on the dam that runs 8,395 feet and stands 72 feet tall. Originally built in 1978, replacement of the now 44-year-old gates and other rehabilitation work will help ensure the structure’s longevity.
This project comes on the heels of the decade-long, complete gate replacement at Possum Kingdom Lake’s Morris Shepperd Dam. The final design was complete in December 2021, and in the coming months the BRA Board of Directors will consider the construction contract.
Dickson said he’s fortunate to be stepping into an office with more than 55 years of experience just between Assistant Reservoir Manager Jackie Scott and Senior Administrative Assistant Sharon Davenport. The lake office also has three lake rangers and six employees who work in operations and maintenance.
“They are so knowledgeable,” he said. “That amount of experience is invaluable, the skills of the operations and maintenance personal is eye-opening.”
Dickson said he enters into every conversation with a willingness to learn. He likes to attribute that to a quote he once heard and tries to abide by, “In conversation, do you listen, or do you wait to talk?”
He learned the importance of that from the man who encouraged him to apply to work for the BRA all those years ago, Richard Kusler. The duo are still friends and continue to exchange stories today.
Kusler is just one of many who formally worked at, or currently work at, the BRA that Dickson considers a friend.
“BRA is a special group of people and many of them I consider my very best friends, Dickson said.
The people are one of the reasons Dickson has stayed with, and enjoyed working for, the Brazos River Authority. He said there are many very kind people with a vast range of skillsets and extreme knowledge that help keep one another on their toes.
Dickson said he believes his wife of 35 years will enjoy living alongside beautiful Lake Limestone. The couple are already fans of visiting National parks (and way out of the way places) when Dickson isn’t participating in amateur hour at the golf course or diving into Early Texas history. And he’s eager to try out first-hand the reservoir’s reputation for outstanding fishing. Dickson grew up next door to Earl Golding, the longtime Outdoors Editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald, and a member of the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Due to his relationship with Earl, he’s been fishing and hunting his entire life.
“This is a new challenge in my life,” Dickson said. “And it’s one I’m looking forward to.”