News Briefs: Water Workers Honored for Locating Missing Woman

In this week’s news briefs, three employees from the Arlington, Texas, water department are recognized for going above the call of duty, and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority names a new executive director.
News Briefs: Water Workers Honored for Locating Missing Woman

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The Arlington (Texas) Police and Fire Department recently honored three Arlington Water Utilities Department employees for going beyond the call of duty. Field operations supervisor Marcus Phillips and crew members Adam Wagner and Juleah Sessom assisted in locating a woman who had been reported missing on July 20.

The woman, who allegedly suffers from dementia, became separated from her husband while they were shopping at the Wal-Mart near AT&T Stadium. The couple was visiting from out of town, and she was without water on a day temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees F.

Phillips, Wagner and Sessom answered emergency responders’ request for maps of the stormwater drains near the area where the woman disappeared. Afterward, they stayed around to help with the search. About four hours after the search began, Sessom spotted the missing person and notified police.

“Our crew did an outstanding job and went above and beyond to assist when needed the most,” said Darryl Westbrook, assistant director of field operations. “This is just one example of many, and we are proud of their dedication to the citizens of Arlington.”

From left to right, Police Lt. Mike Hollier, Water Utilities field operations supervisor Marcus Phillips, crew member Adam Wagner, crew member Juleah Sessom and Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Holloway. (photo courtesy city of Arlington)

Source: press release

City to Buy Private Water Company for $16.4 Million
In its ongoing effort to become a regional water provider, the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, purchased a private water utility that serves about 3,500 customers in developments to the north and south of the city. The city filed a court action in July, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports, and will pay $16.4 million for the purchase of family-owned Jornada Water Co.

“The Jornada system is a series of stand-alone subsystems that aren’t connected in part because a lot of their water service was related to subdivision development,” Assistant City Attorney Marcy Driggers told the newspaper, but added, “Jornada’s system is state of the art.”

According to the report, annexations by the city led to about half of the utility’s service area being incorporated into the city’s boundaries. Over the years, Jornada made an effort to develop the utility’s infrastructure to city standards even though it wasn’t obligated to do so.

Jornado Water Co. President Denny Rogers said running a utility is becoming more difficult for small utilities to manage with increasing regulations and oversight. He confirmed that Jornada approached the city with an offer. “We’ve done this for 34 years, and it’s time for us to take a vacation,” Rogers said.

Source: Las Cruces Sun-News

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Names Executive Director
Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority appointed Dr. K. Charles Griffin as its next executive director. Griffin is a registered engineer, who has worked in the water and wastewater industry, much of it in the public sector, for the last 20 years.

Griffin was the assistant county administrator for utilities and infrastructure and director of operations and management for public utilities for Hillsborough County, Florida, where he administered a budget of over $400 million and a five-year capital budget of $3 billion. He previously served as the executive director of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, the largest water agency in Mississippi, for 12 years.

“I am honored to accept the appointment to lead PWSA and look forward to joining dedicated colleagues in our work on behalf of a great city,” Griffin said in a statement. “I know from my discussions with the mayor and the board that they are all committed to advancing PWSA’s mission in a professional, efficient and cost-effective manner.”

Griffin, who will receive a salary of $190,000 per year, holds a Bachelor of Science degree from UC Irvine, master’s degrees from Cornell and the University of Southern Florida, and a doctorate degree in leadership and management from the University of Mississippi.

Jim Good resigned as executive director on March 3 after the agency received numerous customer complaints related to billing errors.

Source: press release


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