To provide for a smoother transition, and because retiring Cleveland Utilities President and CEO Tom Wheeler will be using accrued personal leave, the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities will transfer his duties to successor Ken Webb effective Oct. 1.
Wheeler’s retirement, which closes a 42-year career with CU, officially takes effect Nov. 1; however, he will not be in the office throughout the month of October due to previously unused personal time. His final meeting with the CU board will be Sept. 26.
The board’s action at a recent formal gathering in the utility’s training center came at Wheeler’s recommendation. The outgoing utility leader pointed out that because of his absence in October through Nov. 1 one person needed to have oversight of his duties as the utility’s lead manager. He asked board members to officially transfer his duties to Webb for that period, leading up to Wheeler’s official retirement date.
The board approved Wheeler’s recommendation on a unanimous 5-0 vote.
Webb, a 26-year CU veteran, currently serves as senior vice president and chief financial officer. He was named by the utility board to succeed Wheeler in the group’s formal session on July 8. As senior vice president, Webb was already understood to be Wheeler’s second in command.
Webb’s selection as incoming president and CEO came then on a motion by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, who represents the Cleveland City Council on the utility board, and a second by board member Chari Buckner. He also received the support of Aubrey Ector, board chairman; Eddie Cartwright, vice chairman; and Joe Cate, board member.
“I think the board has made a great decision, a great choice,” Wheeler said in July of Webb’s selection.
A certified public accountant since 1979, Webb, 59, is a Bradley County native. He graduated from Charleston High School in 1972, Cleveland State Community College in 1974 and Tennessee Wesleyan College in 1976. He joined the local utility company as senior accountant in 1987, and was named manager of the Accounting Division in 1988. In 2012, he was named senior vice president and CFO.
Webb becomes CU’s fourth general manager, a title which was later changed to president and CEO. Others before him were Wallace Jacobs, M.E. “Joe” Beavers and Wheeler. Wheeler served in CU’s lead role for 24 years.
In other developments during the recent formal session, the utility board:
- Approved Amendment 1 to Work Authorization 14 with Arcadis U.S. Inc. in the amount of $70,000 for consulting services to prepare easements, permit applications, and for bidding and construction services of Phase 1 of the 20-inch and 24-inch water line extension from 20th Street to Tasso Lane NE.
- Approved a resolution seeking an application for a $1.5 million grant from the Economic Development Association for a water line extension from the Hiwassee Utilities Commission plant to the southern part of CU’s water system. Total project cost will be $7.5 million.
- Approved a purchase order with Siemens Industry Inc., through Utility Sales Agency, in the amount of $67,960 for two Siemans Power 69 kV breakers. Siemens was the low bidder. The breakers will replace two aging breakers that are still in use.
- Approved a purchase order with Cherokee Construction in the amount of $124,932 for the construction of a 30-by-50-foot warehouse and restroom facility at the new district substation on 9th Street. Cherokee was the low bidder. The building will be utilized to store spare parts that are used in all CU substations. The building will store line construction materials for quick access during storm repair work. The building also will house a restroom facility which can be used by all CU employees working on the south end of town.
- Approved a purchase order with Terex Utilities in the amount of $179,871 for one 2014 model cab and chassis and one insulated articulating 45-foot aerial device with the Odyne Hybrid System as part of the TVA/EPRI Medium Duty PHEV Bucket Truck Program. Terex Utilities was the low bidder and met all minimum specifications. This will replace CU’s Unit No. 111. Previously presented to the utility board in an earlier session, this TVA-backed program provides incentives for utility partners like CU to transition hybrid vehicles into their vehicular fleets in order to save on energy costs and to reduce carbon emissions into the air.
- Approved a purchase order with Hampton Backhoe Service in the amount of $60,299 for the installation of 1,016 lineal feet of 8-inch sanitary sewer line along Durkee Road N.E. The Tennessee Department of Transportation will fund 50 percent of this project cost.
- Approved a purchase order with Hampton Backhoe Service in the amount of $72,494 for the installation of 4,511 lineal feet of 6-inch water line along Van Davis Road.
- The utility board’s next scheduled meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 26, at 11:30 a.m. in the company’s training center.