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Who will pick Rockwood's utilities head?

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By Cindy Simpson

Rockwood City Council laid the groundwork last week toward bringing a newly appointed Rockwood Water Sewer and Gas Board and general manager closer to reality.

The council is set to meet at 7 p.m. today, Monday, in a workshop session to look at applications to fill the general manager position.

The meeting comes on the heels of council’s initial approval of an ordinance to re-establish the board. The ordinance must meet council approval on second reading before it is enacted.

“To me, you cannot put a board in place if you do not have a leader,” said Vice Mayor Peggy Evans.

“You need your administrative person in place, and then you go from there.”

Evans is among the proponents of giving council the responsibility of choosing the manager.

Council members have been sitting as the board since they abolished the old board last fall amidst finding out the utility had been mingling gas and water funds.

The utilities’ manager, Rod King, later resigned as part of a settlement reached from an earlier lawsuit he filed against three council members individually and the council as a whole.

Mayor James Watts wants to move forward with a new board.

He mentioned the names of those he plans to ask council to approve for appointment.

They include Capstan General Manager Loren Bone, Councilman Dudley Evans, former councilman Darryl Meadows, nuclear engineer Tim Couch and businessman Eddie Lee.

Watts asked the council to expedite the ordinance’s second reading.

Council, however, voted to have a meeting to begin looking at applications prior to scheduling a second reading.  

Councilman Harold Ishman said he believes a newly established board should select the manager.

“In my opinion, the best route is to let a board choose a general manager they are going to have to work with directly,” he said.

Councilwoman Krystal Hennager seemed of like mind and wanted to move on to other city business.

“We are at the beginning right now,” she said. “Is this not the best time before we bring our manager in to get this board started so they can make wise decisions?

“We have people out here begging us for help, and ever since I’ve been sitting here it has been the water board,” she added.

Councilman Bill Thompson said the council has dragged its feet too long on taking action.

“My feeling on this thing is I don’t want it, but I don’t want to dump it in five people’s lap that don’t know anything that is going on apparently,” he said. “So my feeling is that we take a look and maybe if we can come to an agreement on somebody, hire somebody and then turn it back to them.”

Councilman Dudley Evans said he believed voting on the ordinance on first reading was a good idea to move forward. He added that he believes council should still search for the manager.

“I encourage this council to vote unanimous on this because if you don’t people are going to look at  you as possibly being power hungry,” he added.

Peggy Evans seemed unfazed by his warning. She cast the lone vote against the ordinance.

Thompson was displeased Dudley Evans seemed to have knowledge about the recommendations before other council members.

“If I heard Mr. Evans right, he has some names maybe to put on this board that I’ve never seen,” Thompson said.

“I don’t think this is right, if in fact this is the case that some of the council members are getting this information and we’re not getting it.”

Dudley Evans replied, “I apologize if anybody feels I’ve been privy to any information you haven’t got. That should never have happened, especially when we’re going to vote on the board.”

After the meeting, Thompson was overheard saying that he might have reconsidered re-establishing the board before hiring a manager if he’d heard the list of board members Watts planned to recommend.