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After 25 Years On The Job, Newman Announces Retirement

Electric Department Manager Joe Newman has several upgrade and improvement projects still in the works including putting another transformer like the one above in the main substation before he retires in August. –Photo by Jack Gurner

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – Joe Newman, “hands-on” manager of the City Electric Department, is retiring Aug. 1 after 25 years of service to the community.

Newman submitted his retirement letter Tuesday morning, Jan. 4. It was presented to Aldermen by Mayor Larry Hart that evening at their regular monthly Board meeting. The effective date is Feb. 1, but he will remain with the department for a six-month transition period.

Department veteran Andy Hall has been promoted to fill the position. “I’ll work with Andy to get him in the chair and get him seated,” Newman said. “He’s going to start making decisions Feb. 1 and I’m going to be there to make sure that they are right.”

Newman began working in 1980 for the state highway department and then was hired by the city in 1986 by former Electric Department Manager Vernon Chambers. He took over as manager in January of 2005.

“I worked for four mayors and three other superintendents,” he said.

Newman is leaving his city post to work with Casey Washington at Valley Tool. Although he is quick to note that he enjoys his current job, the position at Valley Tool was just too good to pass up.

It wasn’t all about the money, it was about the opportunity,” Newman said. “It’s an opportunity that is there today, but may not be next year.”

He is also looking forward to working with Washington, who he calls “a great guy and a wonderful businessman.”

Newman was quick to add that he’ll miss the old job. “I’ll miss making this nice footprint in the city doing all the things that we do. That’s what I’ll miss. I won’t miss the politics or the storms.”

He said that he will especially miss the people at the electric department. Although Newman holds the title of manager, he has always said that he and his crew work together. “They don’t work for me, they work with me and we work for the City of Water Valley. I just got awarded the job of being responsible if something doesn’t go right,” he said with a grin.

And, Newman said that if something doesn’t go right, he’ll be back to help. “If there is a major problem, I’ll come back and crawl in a bucket truck if that’s what’s needed.”

Aside from his duties in the Electric Department, he has a long list of accomplishments including a term as President of the Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. But, you wouldn’t know it from listening to Newman, who is not one to brag about what he has done.

Leaving is a bit sad. But, working for the people of Water Valley has been good, he said.

“I’ve made a lot of friends and a few enemies, too,” Newman added. “But that comes with it.”

Among other actions at the January meeting, the Board of Aldermen:

• Approved payment of three Hydro-Hawk invoices totaling $119,882.25. The amount represents almost all of the installation work for the SCADA equipment that will monitor the City’s water and sewer system.

“We’re pretty well down to the end of that project,” Hart told Aldermen.

• Paid three invoices totaling $1448.20 from attorney John Crow for legal work done on cases appealed from Municipal Court to Circuit Court.

• Were informed that City employees would get a holiday on Jan. 17 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. All City offices will be closed.

• Heard an update from Mickey Howley, Director of the Water Valley Main Street Association, on the group’s projects.

Howley reported that the Arts Council was planning an event for February and Main Street was already working on the upcoming Marketfest.

He also described planning being done by the Town and Country Garden Club for a “bump out” planter at the Railroad Park Pavilion.

• Entered executive session at 6:39 p.m. to discuss a personnel matter.

• Returned to regular session at 6:46 p.m.

“We have accepted the retirement of Joe Newman,” Hart said. “And, we have promoted Andy Hall to that position as Manager of the Electric Department effective Feb. 1.”

• Adjourned at 6:47 p.m. after meeting for a total of 16 minutes. Present were Aldermen Donald Gray, Bobby Cox, Fred White, and Phillip Tallant.

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