Larry Garrett’s final day as manager of the Huntsville Water Department will be Friday, although he won’t officially retire until this summer.
The Huntsville Water and Sewer Commission last week heard an update on Garrett’s plans to leave the utility. Garrett told the commission of his retirement plans last year, though he did not have a specific date in mind at the time.
Garrett will use vacation time and sick days after Friday, officially retiring on July 1, according to incoming Manager Sean Davis.
Garrett joined the water department in 1995 as a distribution operator. After he became wastewater manager, he was asked to fill in for the water director, who left the job vacant. Garrett said he filled in for six months before suggesting to authorities they needed to find a full-time director. He then was asked to take the position.
January marked Garrett’s 25th year with the water utility.
Garrett said after last Thursday’s meeting that he had mixed feelings about leaving the job.
“It’s hard. It’s scary,” he said. “We work all of our life for retirement and when it comes time to retire it’s a little bit scary. What are you gonna do,” he said.
Garrett said he’ll stay active after retirement.
“I’ve got lots of hobbies and things that I like to do,” he said. “I’ll probably work a little bit part time, a day here and a day there, when I want to,” he said.
Davis said, “I bet ya we’ll see him for coffee once in a while.”
Davis was hired last summer to replace Garrett upon his retirement.
“I’d like to say, Larry’s got a big heart. He’s always cared a lot about the community and the employees,” Davis said.
“He set a good example for how to treat people,” Davis added. “I hope he’s been a good teacher. We’ll find out as the months pass on. He’s put a lot of effort into making this an easy transition for me. He’s been here since I was hired (2005) so I’d say he’ll be missed.”
Commission Chairman Jeff Watson also complimented Garrett on his work.
“Larry has always done a very good job,” he said. “He’s always been very professional. When he comes to meetings and everything he’s always had his facts together.”
In other business last week:
• Davis told the commission that changes at the wastewater plant and a local business have led to substantial savings. He said Butterball is doing more treatment at its plant, meaning the city has used less of an expensive treatment chemical.
After the commission meeting, Davis said the city saved $5,000 in January.
“They installed a lot of treatment up there last year,” Davis told the commission. “We’ve had some ups and downs with it, but right now it seems to be working pretty well.”
Wastewater Manager Bill Eoff said, “They’re (Butterball) taking more solids out. They’re getting rid of them up there so we don’t have to take care of it.”
• Davis reported on damage to a 2-inch water line at the Huntsville Municipal Airport due to a lightning hit. The water line serves all three airplane hangars, but only one residence was affected by the outage. The strike damaged telephone service at one of the hangars.
Davis said city crews had to repair about 300 feet of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) water line after the Jan. 11 lightning strike.
The day after the lightning strike, a 6-inch water line broke along Highway 74. Crews had to work nearly 20 hours to fix both problems.
“January’s been a bit rough. I think we had as many overtime hours so far in January as we did last year total,” Davis said.
• Davis said getting funds for a new water tank is “progressing slowly but surely.”
City Attorney Howard “Rusty” Cain is preparing documents for lending agencies.
The new tank will be installed atop Governors Hill at the Madison County Fairgrounds to replace the city’s current tank, which is more than 50 years old.
The water department’s new tank will cost $1.1 million. The utility has received $309,000 in grants, but a loan from the United State Department of Agriculture is needed for the rest.
“Maybe early summer we’ll get this wrapped up and started on the tank,” Davis said.