NU approves funds for upgrade to water treatment plant

NU Water Works Manager Clint Hammonds, right, welcomes David Gilliam, Newport Utilities’ newest employee, to the company’s board of directors meeting on Tuesday. Gilliam has been hired as a systems engineer.

NEWPORT—Newport Utilities board of directors, meeting Tuesday, April 25, unanimously approved the recommendation of Water Works Manager Clint Hammonds to accept a bid of $1,433,700 from Frizzell Construction Company, Inc. for upgrades to the company’s water treatment plant.

In presenting his recommendation, Hammonds told the board the water treatment plant was built in 1963 and has had three upgrades since that time. “The state requires us to plan to expand when we reach 80 percent of the plant’s capacity,” said Hammonds, “and we are nearly that. Our current plant can handle 6 million gallons per day and we are now at 5 million. This upgrade will increase that capacity to 9 million gallons per day. It will also allow us to do maintenance without shutting down.”

Hammonds said bids for the project were opened last Thursday. Other bids for the project were submitted by Howard Engineering & Construction, Inc. ($2,030,000), RTD Construction, Inc. ($2,022,565), and W&O Construction ($2,186,000).

When asked why Frizzell’s bid was significantly lower than the others, NU General Manager Glenn Ray said this project came “at the right time” for Frizzell. “They really want the job,” said Ray, who noted the company has been in business since 1960 and has “a good reputation.”

On a motion by Willie Green, seconded by Craig Wild, the board unanimously approved Hammonds’ recommendation.

NU Electric Department Manager Jimmy Robertson updated the board on the Chestnut Hill Substation Transmission Line project. “It has been somewhat delayed,” Robertson said, “because of applying for RUS (Rural Utilitiy Services) funding to save on interest. This could possibly save us over $600,000 in interest.”

Robertson said that archeological studies have been done “as required by RUS” and that a LiDAR (Light Detection Ranging) study has been completed. “We don’t anticipate any problems with the project,” Robertson said. “We’re just jumping through the hoops.”

Terryl Denton, NU Vegetation Management Manager, reported on “Plant It Forward,” a project being done in association with National Arbor Day. “We planted dogwoods at CCHS and cypress trees at Cosby High last year,” Denton said, “and this year’s focus is on hybrid chestnut and sawtooth oak trees.”

Carmen Lichty, NU Customer Service Manager, said the company remains “on track” with its Electric Smart Grid-Broadband Project.

Donna Cureton, NU Procurement Manager, asked the board to approve a bid from Williams Lawn Care for $222,533.81 for a three-year contract for mowing, weedeating, and landscaping all sites belonging to the utility. Other bids submitted on the project came from Carr’s Lawn Service, Morristown ($219,675.12), Total Property Management, New Market ($249,365.00), and Shoemaker Landscaping, Newport ($620,093.75).

Cureton said she will be meeting with board attorney James C. McSween, Jr. regarding purchasing guideline changes, and that an inventory of NU’s electric department has been completed and that similar inventories of the company’s water and sewer department should be finished this week.

Cureton also announced that John Johnson is now NU’s warehouse supervisor.

Human Resource Manager Connie Frisbee introduced David Gilliam, the company’s newest employee, who will be working in the Water Works department as a systems engineer.

Chris Mullins, Safety, Health & Security Manager, told the board NU is on a “good trend in lost time hours,” noting the company now has “almost 300,000 safe work hours.”

John Knight, IT Manager, showed the board a proposed conversion of a storage room at the water department to a large server room.

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