Chairman now assistant in training

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The chairman of the Board of Directors at Lewisburg's Water and Wastewater Department resigned last month and was hired by the utility's superintendent who named him as the system's assistant superintendent in training.

Former Board Chairman Pepper Biggers is in training to succeed the utility's assistant superintendent, Kenneth Carr, who's been dubbed Superintendent Larry Jones' heir apparent since Jones' announced his retirement effective Jan. 1.

"The first four days have not discouraged me from wanting the position" of assistant superintendent next year, said Biggers who was on the utility board for a decade and served10 years on the Marshall County Board of Education.

Biggers was interviewed Friday morning. He's been the proprietor of Biggers Market on North Fifth Avenue.

"Oct. 31 was my last day as chairman of the board," Biggers said of his resignation letter to Mayor Bob Phillips who appoints members of the utility board.

Biggers and Jones said before Jones' letter of resignation was accepted by the utility board on Oct. 16, there had been some discussion about who might succeed Carr.

"We try to promote from within," Jones said. "I consider this a promotion, even though he was on the board. I'm going to be here for two more months for the transition period."

Biggers "has a very good reputation in the community," Jones said. "So does his family," he said, noting Biggers' decade on the school board.

"Everything we've been involved with for 10 years, he's been involved with," Jones said. "It's a very workable situation to move him into the assistant superintendent position.

"He knows where we are (on the utility's various projects) and that minimizes my transition work," Jone said.

The board hires the superintendent and the superintendent hires all other employees of the system, said Jones, who's leaving the system after 17-1/2 years of service as the utility's superintendent.

"I've tried to run it as straight up as I can for 17-1/2 years," Jones said, emphasizing he wants the utility to have an assistant superintendent who is familiar with the system.

"I felt it would be as close to hiring from within as we could get," Jones said. "He is trainable and will make a good person for this position. The board had nothing to do with his hiring."

Biggers has attended classes at Motlow State Community College and the University of Tennessee at Martin. His two years of college studies were focused on business and finance. Jones' attended a business college.

Small utility system management requires awareness of various disciplines, Jones said, listing engineering, legal issues and management. The city water department has a consulting engineer and an attorney on retainer.