County again loses utilities boss

Baker had served Chatham a year

Staff WritersMarch 3, 2006 

Chatham County's public works utilities director has resigned from the post he assumed just a year ago, leaving the position open for the third time in less than three years.

Will Baker said he submitted his resignation several weeks ago and County Manager Charlie Horne accepted it Thursday. His last day running the county's water system is today.

Baker, who previously spent 17 years working for the city of Graham, said he'd had problems with some members of the county's volunteer water advisory board, appointed by the county commissioners.

"I think that the advisory board needs to be focused. It needs to have a code of ethics put upon it. And until that happens, I don't really see the system moving forward the way it should," he said. "Once you create [a position for] somebody to be the director, you should give them a chance to lead.

"I'm not going to play politics. I just want to run a water system, period."

Baker, who made $60,000 per year in his position, wouldn't discuss specific problems.

He took over the job Feb. 14, 2005. Before that, it had been vacant for about six months after the dismissal of Director Steve Talbert after just 10 months on the job. Before that, Ron Singleton resigned in April 2003 after about three years there.

The water system racked up nine reporting violations issued by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources between August 2003 and September 2004.

In October, the county was fined $18,600 for a variety of violations that led to 3,200 households receiving notices that pregnant women and children should not drink the water because of high levels of a chemical disinfectant.

Most recently, DENR found three violations for the system's December operations, according to Linda Raynor, branch chief for compliance services in the department's public water supply section. One violation involved a treatment technique; the other two were for monitoring failures, Raynor said.

Utilities Manager Roy Lowder will serve as the interim director.

Staff writer Lisa Hoppenjans can be reached at 932-2014 or lisa

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