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Ron Berry named interim director for Rockwoood utilities

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By Cindy Simpson

Roane County Commissioner Ron Berry knows the Rockwood Water, Sewer and Natural Gas operation.

The former longtime utility board member was unanimously approved to be an interim part-time manager for the utility at a special-called Rockwood City Council meeting to discuss the position and the city’s budget.

Berry told the council he began thinking of what he could do as he reflected on the utility’s woes he read about in the newspaper.

“I thought you know, this is our town. Our utility has some good employees,” he said. “I thought this is the time sometimes when you just have to step forward and do what you can to try and help out.”

Berry said he can provide a cooling-down period after several months of upheaval within the department.

“This would be a temporary thing,” he said.

“I just felt like it was a time for us to, to roll up our sleeves and everybody go to work and get done what we need done and to get our town back in a mode of some harmony and getting us out of the scope of the media,” said Berry, who owns his own media outlet.

Councilman Dudley Evans asked Berry about his familiarity dealing with people, including the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Evans is a contracted newscaster for Berry’s media outlet.

Councilman Bill Thompson asked how Berry pictured the use of his day.

Berry said he anticipated working probably 25 to 30 hours a week.

Berry told Thompson he would likely start “on the hill” at the water plant in the morning and go from there.

Councilwoman Krystal Hennager asked why Berry was helping.

He replied that now probably isn’t a good time to be searching for a new manager.

“They (potential candidates) are going to check the newspapers. They are going to check the mood of the community. They are going to check with people. Right now is probably not the best time to try and do that (advertise),” Berry said.

He also said he’d like to be a part of finding solutions to the problems at the utility.

The Rockwood City Council approved hiring Berry for three months at a time, at $12,500 for the period.