A new safety manager was introduced during a recent meeting of the Henry County Public Service Authority (PSA) Board at the newly upgraded Upper Smith River Water Filtration Plant.
Lucas Draper was named to the post currently occupied by Tim Byrd, who is retiring September 30.
Byrd has served as the PSA’s safety manager since 2009, according to Dale Wagoner, General Manager of the PSA and County Administrator.
Byrd has “been a true asset to the Public Service Authority for the past 12 years,” Wagoner said. “He took our program and gave it structure and process and a lot of organization that will make it easy for the next person to administer.”
Draper “comes to us from the construction and maintenance division. He’s been there about five years, so he’s been with the PSA for a few years, and we know him pretty well,” Wagoner said. “He’s demonstrated work ethic, so we’re looking forward to putting his talent and skills to work.”
“I’m excited for the opportunity and there’s a lot to learn but I’m ready to get in there and learn,” Draper said.
The board also toured the newly upgraded plant, led by Justin Pruitt, superintendent of water plant operations, water loss, and distribution.
The process for the upgrades first began in 2009, when the withdrawal permitting applications began. From 2016 to 2018, engineering and design plans were drawn up. Construction began in 2018 and was completed in 2021.
The improvements include increased capacity, rehabilitation of the four old filters, installation of one additional filter, a new chemical feed building, and much more.
Pruitt also discussed the quality of the water filtered at the plant.
“Our engineering firm cannot believe the small amount of turbidity we have in our finished water,” he said. “I’ve not personally seen another plant that gets the same amount of quality from their filters that we do. It’s extremely, extremely clean.”
Board members praised Pruitt for his efforts.
“I’m very blessed to have a great staff here. They’re the ones who make my life easy,” Pruitt said.
In other matters, the PSA board:
*Addressed the issues presented with the new software upgrade. “The customer service office is having quite a challenge with some of the things that the system did during the upgrade that we don’t understand why,” Finance Director Darrell Jones said, and noted that upwards of 400 customers are seeing incorrect charges on their accounts.
“There have been some customer accounts that have been affected and charges to their account that shouldn’t have been there,” he said. The customer service department “is basically spending a lot of time going through it trying to figure out who’s been affected to try and get them corrected. It’s probably going to take some time for them to do that.”
Jones also said that the system has had a few instances of crashing.
*Heard the finance report. The PSA is reporting a small decrease in sales between last August and August 2021, though it is unsure why. It will continue to monitor sales to see if there is a trend.
*Heard the construction report.
*Heard the treatment report.
*Paid the bills.