Utilities manager search still going

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By Cindy Simpson

The search continues for a manager for Rockwood Water, Sewer and Gas.
Kimberly Ramsey, a civil engineer who worked many years as town engineer and in public works at Farragut, will be interviewed during a 7 p.m. workshop today, April 11.
Bryan Fowler, a civil engineer and former Morristown wastewater operations manager, was Rockwood City Council’s top choice last month, but Rockwood Mayor James Watts said negotiations are at a standstill.
“We’ve just been unable to reach an agreement on what he desires in compensation,” he said. “I can’t get a firm answer, and I’m not going to sit back and wait and then possibly have to go through the application process again.”
Watts has said the city is looking to offer between $80,000-$85,000.
“We’re still somewhere around the $90,000 range, and I just felt like we needed to take another look at an applicant and see if we can in fact resolve the matter,” Watts said.
Rod King, who resigned last year from the position, was making $69,000.
Watts said Ramsey was the fourth finalist after Fowler, Rockwood native Norm Bowman and Caren Ruffner, a property manager who formerly worked as a storm water program manager for Hamilton County.
“We called her and asked her if she’d be interested in talking with us about the job,” Watts said.
Watts said Ramsey seems just as qualified as Fowler, and he was asked how they overlooked her.
“I said I really don’t know because she probably, if we look at all the applications, she probably has as good a résumé, as far as her being experienced as any of them,” Watts said.
“Sometimes it takes a second look,” he added.  
Bowman wasn’t selected because of his commitment to a salary out of the range Rockwood was offering.
Several on council expressed reservations and felt the ratepayers would be
incensed if a manager was hired at a much higher
Watts said he is anxious to get a manager in position who can “do the job everyone expects them to do.”
“I really believe we need to hire a general manager and let the gas, water and sewer department move ahead,” Watts said.