CU honors retiring VP Rick Lawson
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Jan 04, 2013 | 978 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rick Lawson
RICK LAWSON, center, recently retired vice president of Administrative Services at Cleveland Utilities, was honored Thursday with a plaque and resolution of appreciation by the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities. Here, he receives the plaque from board chairman Aubrey Ector, left, and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, right, who also serves as a board member. Banner photo, RICK NORTON
view slideshow (2 images)
A retiring Cleveland Utilities veteran whose 41-year climb took him from Line Department groundman in 1972 to a company vice presidency two decades later was honored Thursday with a resolution and plaque.

The action came during a formal monthly session of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities.

In unrelated developments, the CU board also approved its Fiscal Year 2012 audit and named Capital Mark Bank & Trust as its banking service provider through 2017. Bank of Cleveland had previously served in this role since Jan. 1, 2006, and will continue to do so until CU’s transition with Capital Mark has been completed.

Bank of Cleveland and Capital Mark were the only two bidders for CU’s banking services of 13 local banks that had been invited to bid on the five-year contract.

As approved by the utility board, Capital Mark will be awarded the bid officially pending the satisfactory completion of all electronic process testing between the bank and the utility, according to Ken Webb, CU senior vice president and chief financial officer.

The resolution honoring Lawson — who was accompanied at Thursday’s board session by his wife, Darlene — was read publicly by Tom Wheeler, CU president and CEO.

Wheeler acknowledged Lawson began his utility career in February 1972 as a groundman in the Line Department. He transfered to meter reading in December of the same year, and was promoted to serviceman in 1978. He was promoted again in 1979 to Customer Service and in 1985 he earned an even higher position as administrative assistant.

“... Upon the growth of Cleveland Utilities and the need for a new department, in June 1992, Rick was promoted to manager, Administrative Services, to oversee Human Resources, Safety, Training, Customer Relations and Marketing,” the resolution, as read by Wheeler, pointed out. “He has faithfully served Cleveland Utilities for 41 years with dedication and distinction.”

The framed document stressed, “... [The board] extends its heartfelt thanks and tremendous appreciation to Rick Lawson for his dedication and devotion to Cleveland Utilities during his many years of service, and to let him know that he will be greatly missed.”

Wheeler pointed out the plaque and resolution are “a small token of the Board’s great administration and respect” for Lawson’s work ethics, his dedication to task and his loyalty to the local utility company.

The board approved the resolution by a unanimous 5-0 vote on a motion by Joe Cate and second by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland. Also voting in support of its passage were members Eddie Cartwright and Chari Buckner, as well as Aubrey Ector, board chairman.

Of the five-year banking service contract, Webb told the board only Bank of Cleveland and Capital Mark submitted bids. In response to a question by Ector on why only two of 13 local banks would bid for the CU contract, Webb said he believes it is because of the complexity and the sheer magnitude of the Cleveland Utilities account.

“Cleveland Utilities is a labor-intensive account,” Webb said. He pointed out the utility sends out 33,000 to 34,000 billings monthly.

In a written report to the board, Webb pointed out the differences between the Bank of Cleveland and Capital Mark bids.

“Bank of Cleveland bid an interest payment to Cleveland Utilities of 10 percent of the prevailing prime rate and Capital Mark bid 15 percent,” he explained. “Although not requested to do so, Capital Mark agreed to pay the prevailing feds fund rate to CU if it was higher than the percentage of prime at any given time. The current prime rate is 3.25 percent which translates to a .49 percent interest rate on deposits at the 15 percent proposal; however, Capital Mark has set the rate at .50 percent.”

In his written statement, Webb said his banking service contract recommendation to the board is three-fold and that members approve the following:

1. That the agreement is subject to successful testing of electronic systems. In addition, funds in excess of the FDIC limit will not be transferred to Capital Mark until the bank’s participation in the State Collateral Pool has been confirmed by Capital Mark and the state of Tennessee. Webb later pointed out this confirmation has been received.

2. That the “Entity Resolution” be approved as prepared and presented by Capital Mark Bank & Trust. This will allow CU to open accounts and to perform the electronic procedural testing.

3. That in the event that electronic systems are not compatable or, in the opinion of CU staff that workarounds are not available, that the bid by Bank of Cleveland be accepted.

Keith Barrett, Cleveland president for Capital Mark, attended Thursday’s session to help answer any questions.

Webb also praised Bank of Cleveland for its past years of service to CU.

“The Bank of Cleveland staff has always been very cooperative and willing to help [Cleveland Utilities] in any way possible,” Webb said.

Board members approved the Capital Mark bid by a unanimous 5-0 vote on a motion by Rowland and second by Cate.

In other developments, the CU board:

- Approved Change Order 2 with W&O Construction in the amount of $24,161 for necessary project modifications in the installation of the new centrifuge at the wastewater treatment plant. The contract amount increases from $771,000 to $795,161. This also extends the substantial completion date to 172 days. Total project completion date is now set for April 22.

- Approved a purchase order with Greenstar LLC of $115,500 for the excavation and installation of a substation pad and accompanying facilities at the District Substation.

- Approved two purchase orders with Union Metal for 20 steel transmission poles in the amounts of $26,744 and $42,574 for a combined total of $69,318. The orders were divided to expedite the delivery of tranmission poles for the TDOT project on Durkee Road. Six of the steel poles will be used in the Durkee Road project; 14 are spare poles and will eventually be used at the District Substation.

- Approved a purchase order with Teledyne Leeman Labs of $60,170 for the purchase of a new spectrophotometer; this equipment was included in the budget at a much higher $100,000.

- Approved a purchase order with Power Equipment Company of $121,900 for a 2010 Komatsu Front End Loader. CU’s existing loader is 28 years old. The new loader was included in the CU budget in the amount of $145,000.

- The CU board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Thursday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m. in the training center.