Harry A. Tow, PE, AICP – A Visalia Legend

Harry A. Tow, PE, AICP


By Mike Ratajski


A Visalia Legend

It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we share the peaceful passing of QK co-founder Harry Tow, PE, AICP. He was 94 years old.

Throughout his 48 years at Quad, Quad Knopf, and now QK, Harry shared his insight and wisdom with those of us who had the privilege to work with him. He was an incredible mentor, friend, and positive influence, and was devoted to service of his community through his consulting work, literally for as long as possible.

Over the last 60+ years, Harry established an extraordinary record of service to our Central Valley community as a city official, professional engineer and planner, business owner, mentor, and church, and community leader. He has been recognized for his professional skills in civil engineering, environmental planning and city management, as well as his personal contributions in leading young adults and passion for creating economic growth in the Central Valley.

As an ASCE Lifemember (ASCE member since 1974), Harry was a tireless ambassador for the engineering community.  He served on many boards and engineering committees with professional organizations where service to the ASCE organization was leveraged ten-fold by his professionalism and involvement with other services to his profession.

Harry had been on the water engineering front decades before the California water crisis and was a key member of the State Water Resources Control Board (the “old” statewide unpaid board, which included representatives from industry, districts, environmental community, etc. and preceded the present structure). He was also:

  • Chair of the League of Cities Environmental Committee
  • President of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA, previously known as WDCF)
  • President of the Water Environment Federation (WEF)
  • A Lifemember of APWA as well as long-time member of environmental and planning organizations

As a child in 1938, Harry moved with his parents to Long Beach, CA, from his small town of Marshalltown, Iowa. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Navy V-12 fliers program while concurrently attending university. Harry graduated with a bachelor’s degree from USC in civil engineering in 1947, as well as a master’s degree in 1952 in the same field.

After receiving his undergraduate degree, Harry secured his first professional employment with the County of Ventura as an assistant hydraulic engineer in 1947. Within a year, he had advanced to the City of Los Angeles as a design engineer, and provided supplemental design work to the private international firm of Daniel, Mann, Johnson, and Manderhall.

In 1956, Harry and his family moved to Visalia, where he remained a public employee as the City Engineer. In 1958, Harry became the City Manager for Visalia, where he remained for 14 years. Harry’s tenure as a City Manager included the revitalization of downtown. The emphasis on preserving downtown during Harry’s time as City Manager was very important because that was when downtown was first being challenged economically by the first shopping centers and malls along Hwy 198 and Mooney Blvd. in Visalia.

Harry Tow’s tenure as a City Manager for Visalia oversaw incredible improvements and development for the community. Along with a number of dedicated city councils and exceptional staff members, Harry was instrumental in helping to shape the community as it stands today. Among the achievements that he takes pride for his share in their evolution are: the successful creation of the downtown Visalia convention center; the transfer of Kaweah Delta Hospital from the City to the Kaweah Delta Hospital District and the further development and expansion of the current facility; the revitalization of the North Visalia community; the preliminary steps to protect, preserve, and revitalize the City’s downtown area, as well as provide crucial parking capacity.

Even though Harry’s schooling was in engineering, he is also an expert in California environmental law (CEQA) and earned his AICP certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners. He had been preparing EIRs since CEQA first became law in 1970 for projects throughout the Central Valley as diverse as hospitals, shopping centers, colleges, large dairies, and manufacturing complexes. He used his engineering and planning expertise to help lay the groundwork for City’s plan policy and the development of the Plaza Regional Park Facility.

Eventually, in 1972, Harry left the City and co-founded Quad Consulting to provide engineering, planning, and management assistance to both public and private clients. In 1998, Quad merged with Knopf Engineering and formed what is now operating as QK (an employee owned company) with offices in Visalia, Clovis, Merced, Bakersfield and Porterville. Harry continued his lifelong mentorship to others while continuing working almost full time as a Principal Engineer and Environmental Planner until the age of 94.

Harry gave selflessly of his time and experience by helping people in the art of professionalism and ethical practices.

During the formation of Quad Knopf, Harry took a firm stand of the ethics and values that one must possess while representing a client as a City Engineer or a hired consultant. With the Board of Directors, they established that the company would operate as “uncompromisingly ethical” in all business endeavors. At times when contracts were vague or lines were unclear, the guidance that Harry provided centered on the question “which decision is morally sound?” Harry would rather lose business or profit than compromise the integrity of the firm or the staff employed.

As a community member, Harry instilled these ethics into our youth as a Boy Scout Cub master and committee member of a local service club-sponsored troop.  His enduring mark is imprinted on the lives of all who were fortunate enough to work with him.

In addition to his lifelong leadership with the Boy Scouts, Harry served on the board for the College of the Sequoias Foundation, Kaweah Delta Hospital Foundation, St Paul’s Episcopal School, and Diocese of Camp San Joaquin. He was also the former President of the Tulare County Industrial Park, Visalia Rotary Club, and San Joaquin Valley City Manager’s Association.

Harry and his high school sweetheart, Shirley, were married for 73 years. Together they had three sons; their late son John, Bill who resides in Australia and works as the head of the Department of International Relations and University of Australia, and Robert who owns an electronics business in Three Rivers, CA.

Harry left an incredible legacy – one our Central Valley community will forever be grateful for. We will miss him very much and cherish the time that we worked alongside him.

Thank you, Harry. For everything.

Grant Funding Opportunity For Municipalities and Districts

CA State Water Boards Prop 1 Storm Water Grant Program


By John Quiring


Prop 1 Storm Water Grant Program

The State Water Resource Control Board’s Proposition 1 Storm Water Grant Program is happy to announce that the Round 2 solicitation is now open and accepting applications! Please refer to the Solicitation Notice and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information about this solicitation and how to apply at the Website below:

  • https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/grants_loans/swgp/prop1/

Due Date: July 2, 2020

Matching Funds: 50%

Purpose:  For multi-benefit storm water management projects which may include, but shall not be limited to, green infrastructure, rainwater and storm water capture projects and storm water treatment facilities.

Available Funding:  $100 million

Maximum/minimum Funding:

  • Per Applicant:  Minimum – $250,000; Maximum – $10 million
  • An applicant may apply for as many projects as it can manage within the term of the SWGP.

Project Type: Implementation Grants Only (no planning grants)

Special Considerations: Must provide multiple benefits (see NOFA for examples), be included in a local IRWM Plan as well as a Local Resource Plan.

Applications will be accepted online through the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST) under the Request For Proposals (RFP) titled: “Prop 1 Round 2 Storm Water Grant Program (SWGP) Project Proposals”.

A webinar for applicants is scheduled for May 12th at 2:00PM to discuss program and application requirements. Login details will be posted on the SWGP webpage above at a later date.

For more information, contact John Quiring, Director of Community Development & Infrastructure Funding at (559) 449-2400 or John.Quiring@qkinc.com.

Covid-19 Message to Clients, Partners, and Friends

Covid-19 Message to Clients, Partners, and Friends


By Ron Wathen, PE, President & CEO



To our clients, partners, and friends,

Our mission at QK is to be an indispensable partner to our clients, communities and each other.  With the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), we recognize that many daily activities continue to be disrupted.  At QK, we embrace our role in minimizing the negative impacts of COVID-19. Our highest priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, clients, and vendors, as well as families and friends. This communication outlines measures implemented in order to do our part to help contain the outbreak while maintaining service to our clients.

QK intends to continue working on projects, meet deadlines and deliverables, and more importantly, reach your vision for your projects.  We have a fluid and flexible workforce that is fully equipped to work offsite as needed.  This capability will help us continue to serve you as we all work together to get through this public health issue. We will continue to serve you as always with your best interest in mind.

In addition, QK is taking the following steps to urge staff to proactively observe the following health guidance to prevent the virus spread:

  • All employees have been educated about proper hygiene and social distancing.
  • We have reduced in-person meetings, opting instead for video and audio conferencing as the norm.
  • We have educated staff on the latest CDC guidance on best practices to prevent the virus spread.
  • We have minimized or stopped all non-essential travel. Travel considered essential must be pre-approved.
  • QK is also advising employees to avoid large gatherings and implement social distancing.

We thank you for your continued partnership.  We feel confident that together, we will get through this public health event and come out stronger on the other side. 

We look forward to remaining an indispensable partner to you, our communities and each other. 


Ron Wathen, PE
President & CEO

How A Park Can Transform A Neighborhood

How A Park Can Transform A Neighborhood


By Mike Ratajski



November 9th was a beautiful warm sunny Fall Saturday in Porterville.  I was invited to attend the dedication ceremony for the Fallen Heroes Park located on the city’s east side.  Today, in the neighborhood around Fallen Heroes Park, you can walk to the local “jerky” store, take your car for a fill-up at the gas station and do-it-yourself spray wash or stop in at the local café for a good “home cooked meal”, but there was no place for kids or families to play, picnic, and just hang out…until now.

Fallen Heroes Park is the latest destination on the Tule River Parkway Trail that will eventually connect this little neighborhood to the broader community of Porterville.  Fallen Heroes Park, originally called “Chase Park”, is dedicated to the fallen heroes of the community – soldiers, police officers, and fire personnel who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and lives of others.

The honorable Mayor, Milt Stowe, led a brief dedication ceremony and following him, the Director of Parks and Leisure Services, Donnie Moore said, “This is the community’s park.  It takes a whole community to keep something like this looking nice.”  After the ceremony, people stayed.  After all the coffee, iced tea, donuts, and cookies were gone, the neighbors didn’t want to leave.  They were hooked.   I took the opportunity to walk around and talk to as many as I could.  It’s interesting what I discovered just by listening.

When you create a beautiful park with many amenities, neighbors have a tendency to take “ownership” of their little green space.  This park already has the distinction of local ownership.  In fact, this opening day was quite the event that people were waiting for.  A little boy who lived nearby would walk up to the construction foreman before opening day and ask him, “When you gonna open my park?”


Already the residents were taking ownership – even the little ones.  That’s a very good sign.   This boy and most of the many happy kids that live nearby now have a place to play and socialize rather than in the street or a spot on the floor in front of the television.  No longer does Mom have to scream, “Get off your rear, stop playing video games, and go out and play!”   Well, that’s wishful thinking, but at least there is now another option.

Local business owners surrounding Fallen Heroes Park used to be concerned about having a park built next door to them because they feared that the park may attract the homeless, crime, and gangs.  They did a “total 180” and are now embracing the park.  The two property owners to the east actually paid for a pedestrian gate between their businesses and the park so their employees would have a place to relax and eat lunch.

I spoke with the owner of the booming tire business across the street.  He was anxious for the park to open because he knew that once it did, his customers, particularly those with young kids, would now have a place to take them while their cars are being worked on. 

The local residents next door were obviously pleased that the dilapidated fence that looked more like a giant toothless comb was replaced by a beautiful masonry wall.

Another factor that contributes to this concept of “ownership” is that the neighborhood had a role in determining what they wanted in their park.  Of course nearly everyone wants a splash playground nowadays.  The residents on Chase Avenue and the blocks around it now have a place to retreat during the brutal summer heat in Porterville…and get to know each other.

According to the American Planning Association (APA), for those concerned that parks may foster crime and illegal activity, evidence now exists that the opposite may be true.  When next to residential areas, parks have been shown to create neighborhoods with fewer violent crimes and damage to property, and neighbors tend to support and protect one another.  Parks support frequent, casual contact among neighbors.  This leads to the formation of neighborhood social ties, the building blocks of strong, secure neighborhoods where people tend to support, care, and protect one another.  In addition, time spent in nature such as the beautifully landscaped environment of Fallen Heroes Park and the future Tule River Parkway adjacent to residential neighborhoods helps relieve mental fatigue; thus, reducing aggression.

QK should be proud of the role we have had in creating these wonderful green, fun-filled places that help transform neighborhoods.  Though the park has been open for nearly two years, crime is non-existent, and judging by the changes that have already taken place as well as this “pride of ownership” that I saw in the local residents and businesses that day, it appears that the neighborhood around Fallen Heroes Park was off to a very good start.