Leader Blues

Monday, December 15, 2008

TOP STORY > > Long-time commission chair leaving

Thad Gray will be retiring from the Jacksonville Water Works Commission at the end of this year, after 13 years as its chairman and almost 21 years as a commission member.
Jim Peacock will become the new commission chairman in January 2009.
Gray has been on the commission most of the years it has been in existence.
The board was activated by city ordinance in 1978 with three members – Pat Wilson, Whit Davis, and Joe Phillips. Gray took the seat vacated by Phillips in March 1988. At the time, Wilson was chair.
When Wilson stepped down, Thad became chair in January 1996.
Under Gray’s leadership, the commission oversaw significant changes in water service as the city has grown.
Among major infrastructure improvements were construction of the 1-million-gallon Paradise storage tank and the laying of three 12-inch water mains to bring water into the city. In 2000, with a merger between the water utilities of Little Rock and North Little Rock, Central Arkansas Water was created.
That brought Jack-sonville Water Works, as a wholesale water purchaser from North Little Rock, into long-ranging regional planning to assure water quality and volume far into the future. Jacksonville is the largest wholesale customer of Central Arkansas Water.
The goal of the commission, says Gray, has always been “to provide quality water long-term for Jacksonville. Many communities in the United States don’t have what we have – quality, good-tasting water.”
Gray says his job as commission chair was made easy by the “very capable, quality, dedicated employees” at Jacksonville Water Works. “That made it a pleasure to serve on the commission.”
Ken Anderson was manager of Jacksonville Water Works when Gray came on board and resigned last summer. Of their years working together, Anderson described Gray as being “instrumental in helping Jacksonville to get with Little Rock and North Little Rock and work toward a future water source.”
“He has always been an excellent chair person and leader of the water works, always thinking to the future of what we needed to be doing so we’d have the best quality water and the quantity we’d need for the future,” Anderson added.
Mike Simpson, who became manager when Anderson resigned, also had high praise for Gray’s leadership and years of service to the city.
“It has been a real pleasure to serve with Thad; he has been a great chairman as well as commissioner,” Simpson said.
“He has seen the commission and the water works through many, many changes. He set the bar for all of us, and has always been about making sure we did things right and were fair to the rate payers,” Simpson continued.
The other incoming commission officers for 2009 will be Larry Wilson as vice chairman and Jack Danielson, secretary.