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Full house at meeting to determine new HUB manager

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By Cindy Simpson

A standing-room-only crowd attended the Harriman Utility Board meeting Monday night.

The board had anticipated a heated meeting when hearing disgruntled ratepayers had discussed attending an upcoming utility board meeting to ask questions about utility practices.

If the disgruntled had attended, they wouldn’t have been able to fit into the conference room. HUB employees filled the room and lined the wall.

“I’d like to thank the employees that showed up tonight for your support for the board and HUB, thank you. I’d like to thank the police officers for being here as well, thank you,” said retiring general manager Chuck Flora.

“I too want to thank the police officers for being here. We thought we might have a different sort of crowd. Thank you for your coverage and thank the employees for being here,”  chair Gary Goff said.

The big issue was who will fill Flora’s shoes.

The board didn’t look very far for one of its four candidates for general manager.

Assistant Manager Bill Young made the short list from the original 19 applicants.

In addition to Young, the others to be interviewed include Wayne D. Landreth, who not only has general manager experience but also is a former TVA employee and manager of an electric distributor; James Mike Bethurem, also experienced as a general manager of a public municipality but with no experience on the natural gas side; and Alex Smith, who has a masters of business administration and bachelor degree in electrical engineering.

Smith has assistant manager experience as a TVA distributor but no general manager experience.

A committee made up of the board, two customers and several employees discussed each candidate at a worshop earlier this month, and the board, taking the committee members’ recommendations narrowed the field.
Interviews will be over two afternoons, May 19 and May 20.

Goff said the board won’t stop until they find the perfect fit for the utility.

“If we don’t find the ideal candidate in this group we may go back and redo it. So we’re not going to be necessarily satisfied with well this is what we got and move forward. We’re going to get the right person even if it takes another ro und of this. This is an important position,” Goff said.

Board member Buddy Bowers said the candidates could be researched by anyone. Goff agreed.

“Now that we have officially voted on these four candidates, they are free game for any and all of us to do phone calls to friends and buddies and acquaintances to get a reference check on that person,” Goff said.

“They will be notified they are on the list. Tonight it is official. We’re an open meeting so certainly they can hear about it,” he added.

Goff encouraged a thorough look into the employment history of the candidates, not necessarily just calling the references they provided.

“I think it may be worthwhile to check the ones that may know them that they didn’t provide. And especially check one of two of their current locations where they worked. You don’t want any surprises with the candidates,” Goff said.

“This is hopefully a longtime hire, not a short time hire,” Goff said.

The board will also be discussing the budget soon in a number of workshops, the first being on Monday, May 23, at 5 p.m. prior to the 7 regular board meeting.

A second budget workshop is tentatively set for Thursday, June 9 at 6 p.m.

The board may also have a special called meeting on June 16 to announce the selection of a new general manager.