Thiemann’s sister named new president for Lake Tahoe Cruises |

Thiemann’s sister named new president for Lake Tahoe Cruises

Rob Bhatt

Patt Herfindal has taken over the helm at Lake Tahoe Cruises, Inc., for her deceased younger brother, Joe Thiemann.

Herfindal, 53, is the second oldest of Thiemann’s six siblings.

She was appointed president of the company that owns the Tahoe Queen earlier this week by her other brother, Michael Thiemann, special administrator to Joe Thiemann’s estate.

“Our immediate plans are refinancing Lake Tahoe Cruises,” Herfindal said on Thursday.

She also said the company plans to follow through with permit applications to resume tour operations by June 1.

How realistic this date will be remains to be seen.

Separate applications to relocate the Tahoe Queen to Timber Cove Marina were rejected by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s governing board last Dec. 20 and Feb. 26.

TRPA board members cited concerns about adequate parking at Timber Cove and Lake Tahoe Cruises’ ability to comply with environmental regulations for the most recent decision.

Possible soil contamination at Ski Run Marina following Lake Tahoe Cruises’ Feb. 19 eviction and a grading violation by a company contractor testing a sewer line at Timber Cove also swayed the TRPA board’s vote.

Herfindal is meeting with environmental consultants this week to discuss future permit applications.

Jim Lawrence, the TRPA associate planner who recommended Lake Tahoe Cruises most recent permit application be approved, said his office has not received new permit applications.

However, a long-term relocation application that proposes splitting berthing operations between Timber Cove and Lakeside Marina is still on file with the TRPA and other regulators.

Meanwhile, Lake Tahoe Cruises has made progress on satisfying terms of a cleanup and abatement order issued Feb. 24 by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.

A contractor hired has removed some waste oil barrels left at Ski Run Marina following the company’s eviction from the site, said Cherie Blatt, a sanitary engineering associate for Lahontan.

The contractor is preparing to analyze the site for possible contamination and cleanup, if necessary.

Lake Tahoe Cruises has also made arrangements with Travel Systems Ltd., which owns the M.S. Dixie II tour boat, to accommodate customers that had reservations on the Tahoe Queen.

“We’re trying to help (Lake Tahoe Cruises) out, so that the Lake Tahoe customer is not disappointed,” said Bill Chernock, Travel Systems’ director of marketing.

Ski Run Marina owners Michael Phillips and Dena Schwarte in December contracted Hornblower Dining Yachts to replace Lake Tahoe Cruises at the site where the boat had operated since its construction in 1983.

Hornblower officials had discussed a possible buyout of the Tahoe Queen with Joe Thiemann during the past several months.

Herfindal said Hornblower officials contacted her company earlier this week.

“They are interested in the (Tahoe) Queen,” she said. She did not elaborate.

Hours after the TRPA board rejected Lake Tahoe Cruises’ most recent relocation application, Joe Thiemann was killed inside Phillips’ home. Police reported Thiemann burst into the home and threatened Phillips with a gun but was killed himself by Phillips’ 18-year-old friend, Vernon Vernaza.

Although charges against Vernaza are unlikely, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office is expected to complete its formal review of the incident next week.

Herfindal said she and other family members are taking a very “philosophical” approach to Joe Thiemann’s death.

“I have a passionate desire to keep Joe’s love and dream alive,” she said. “My feelings about this are mixed. I wish Joe were here to do this himself, but I’m delighted I have the ability and time that I can be here.”

Herfindal retired last year from Blue Shield of California, where she rose to the position of corporate vice president during a 29-year career. She was living in Novato, Calif. prior to taking over her brother’s business.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.