Monday, May 20, 2024

Marathon names Stacie Howell as new community liaison

Site improvement plan also announced

Posted

Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. has recently hired Stacie Howell as a new community liaison to facilitate communications between Hood County residents and the Bitcoin mining site at the Wolf Hollow Data Center.

For more than a year, several community members have voiced their concerns regarding the loud fan noise emanating near the Wolf Hollow plant.

After complaints that the low-frequency hum was causing migraines, hearing loss, ringing in ears, vertigo, nausea and behavioral issues in children, Marathon staff recently announced plans for mitigation that included hiring a community liaison to manage collaboration between the public and the company.

“Furthermore, we are going to hire a member of the local community as a full-time community manager to ensure that your voices are heard and that your concerns are addressed in a timely and effective manner,” CEO Fred Thiel said in a public letter.

Howell was hired as the community liaison in March as she had already been a longtime member of the community.

After moving to Granbury in 1998 and later finding a position at Hilton Garden Inn, she spent 10 years as a marketing director for Daffan Cooling & Heating.

"Daffan gave me an opportunity to grow in so many directions and learn exponentially,” she said. “Not only did I manage our marketing and advertising, but event planning as well."

Since 2008, Howell has also been an ambassador for the Granbury Chamber of Commerce.

Thiel previously told the Hood County News the community liaison would be someone who has lived in Granbury for many years and had fully integrated themselves in the community. Thiel said this role would involve listening to and addressing local concerns, as well as supporting community development projects.

“When Marathon approached me to become a community liaison, I wasn't looking for a career change at the time, but I feel like sometimes you should listen in case God has other plans,” Howell said. “I agreed to meet with the team and was so impressed with their integrity, transparency and professionalism along with what they wanted to achieve here in Granbury. I've always been active in the community, but this is an opportunity to give back to many groups here in Granbury that serve those in need. When would that kind of opportunity present itself again? After much consideration and even more prayer, I couldn't say no.”

Howell explained that while her main role in the new position is to address any concerns or needs with the local community, she will also be tasked with seeking out opportunities for Marathon to “give back” to local nonprofits and schools — especially in the areas of STEM and CTE.

"Marathon currently is focused on sustainability at many of our locations and we are looking for ways to contribute to sustainability and environmental improvements here in Granbury as well,” she said.

One of Howell’s first duties involved leading Marathon’s Community Meet and Greet Friday, March 29, where the company’s new phased plan was introduced.

Set up in a private Q&A format, residents were instructed to pose questions and concerns to Marathon staff about the new phases and plans for noise mitigation.

According to Marathon’s Phased Plan handout, there are a total of seven phases on the “site improvement project.”

Phase #1 involves shutting off the fans of idle units facing the road. This phase is currently in progress and is expected to be complete mid-April 2024.

Phase #2 — which has since been completed — referred to the hiring of Howell, which was completed in March 2024.

Phase #3 involves moving eight containers to liquid cooling. This phase is currently in progress and is estimated to be complete in April 2024.

Phase #4 includes installing vegetation and trees along the perimeter. Marathon is currently researching and soliciting landscape bids and the target is expected to break ground in spring 2024.

Phase #5 will consist of extending the perimeter barrier. Marathon is now evaluating length and location, and this is expected to break ground in August 2024.

Phase #6 involves improving fan technology. Marathon is now evaluating and designing the project and it is set to be complete in November 2024.

Phase #7 will be a continuation of Phase #3, as more containers will be transitioned to liquid cooling. This project is currently being evaluated and a target completion date has not yet been determined.

“We are committed to being thoughtful and considerate neighbors in our new community,” the handout reads. “We have been actively strategizing and seeking community input to find ways to improve our data center. Our team is implementing a site improvement project in several phases. Feedback and collaboration from the community throughout this process is crucial. We want to work with you to collaborate on our plans and we prefer to work with local firms to source expertise, material and labor.”

Howell said since she accepted her new position, there have been quite a few “bumps” in the road but she explained that Marathon is “addressing neighbors’ concerns as quickly as possible.”

"We only gained operational control of this facility at the beginning of March — barely a month,” she said. “We are committed to being a good neighbor.”

For feedback, inquiries and suggestions, email Marathon at granbury@mara.com.