Feb 26, 2014 10:34 PM
The State Parks District Superintendent at Hearst Castle who was put on administrative leave as Lady Gaga was wrapping up a video project there, will be back on the job tomorrow. Nick Franco confirmed to KSBY he will be heading to Sacramento tomorrow for a meeting and will be back in his office on Friday.
Franco was the state official in charge when Lady Gaga shot a music video at the Castle two weeks ago. While no one would officially make the connection of his leave to the Lady Gaga project, he was notified of it the final day of her shoot.
Lady Gaga's shoot involved re-filling the iconic Neptune pool, which was in the process of being drained. A week before the shoot as state crews began the process of draining it because it was leaking and wasting thousands of gallons of water in the middle of a drought. It was down about 5 or 6 inches according to staff on the hill, who said Lady Gaga worked out a deal with Steve Hearst and the state to pump water from irrigation reservoirs to fill the pool for three days, after which it would be returned to the reservoirs.
Lady Gaga donated $250,000 to the Hearst Castle Preservation Board, paid about $22,000 in state permit fees, all state costs associated with the shoot, and donated $25,000 to the Cambria Community Services District for water sources exploration in San Simeon. She also committed to do public service announcements regarding California's drought and to promote Hearst Castle through separate video projects. During the shoot, Gov. Jerry Brown wrote a letter to Gaga thanking her for the financial assistance and the exposure she would be providing to the water woes in the state.
When news of Franco's leave broke, Steve Hearst told KSBY if it was tied to the Gaga shoot, it would be disappointing. Hearst said he has worked with Franco a lot over the last dozen or so years and saw him as "a very dedicated state employee who had continually made good decisions that are in the best interest of the Castle and that's what he did in this case."
Franco said he was looking forward to getting back to work, and that he was very thankful for all the support he had received over the past two weeks. State Parks sector Superintendent Brooke Gutierrez was serving as Acting Superintendent for the entire coastal district in Franco's absence.
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