Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 | 10:20 p.m.
Scott McGruder has been the voice of the state Transportation Department for 26 years, handling calls from irate motorists, unhappy politicians and impatient reporters.
He has served under five governors and five transportation directors and is now calling it quits as public information officer for the department.
The 52-year old McGruder said he had planned to stay five years when first hired but made it a career. "There have been wacky questions," he said. He started with an electric typewriter and personally delivered press releases to the news media in Carson City.
Now the information is emailed. When he started he was the only public information staffer in the department — now there are two spokespeople in Las Vegas. And he's the senior PIO in state government.
He has the regular telephone and a cell number so he can personally speak to the person, "It's good for them to hear a live voice. It tends to calm them down."
Many of the calls came from motorists who were backed up for miles by construction work.
But the department decided to do many of the contacts during nighttime and it "really cut down the calls."
One of the incidents that sticks in his mind was the 1997 flood in Reno that closed the Interstate 80, forcing traffic into the downtown area. "We were eating donuts and drinking coffee all day and into the night" answering calls.
He has purchased an extra three years in the state's retirement system so he will have 30 years. His last day is Jan. 31 but he gave the department three months notice to give him time to clean up his office filled with old documents and massive amounts of paper.
He intends to taxi his two sons to school in Reno where he lives. "I'll take six months off until I decide what to do."
No replacement has been named.