Rick Lawson, vice president of Administrative Services who has served the public utility for 41 years in a variety of roles of progressing responsibility, is ending his CU career in early December. His retirement reception is scheduled for Dec. 10.
He will be succeeded by Tim Henderson, another veteran CU associate whose leadership as safety director since the early 1990s has led the local utility to several achievements in employee safety.
Both announcements came Tuesday by CU President and CEO Tom Wheeler during a formal monthly session of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities.
“I don’t look forward to Rick retiring at all,” Wheeler told the board. “We’ve worked very closely together on a lot of projects and a lot of different issues through the years. It’s going to be hard to see him walk out of here, but we certainly wish him the best as he moves into retirement.”
About this time last year, Dennis Daniel, longtime manager of the CU Electric Division, announced his retirement. He was succeeded by Bart Borden, another veteran electrical engineer who still holds the utility leadership post.
Lawson, 61, assumed the Administrative Services role when the new department was formed 20 years ago, Wheeler noted.
“Rick has done a great job,” the CU president said. “He has served as manager, and now vice president, of Administrative Services. Everything in that department is my right hand. Rick has been my right hand.”
Administrative Services includes all CU operations that are common to the Electric, Water and Wastewater divisions.
“It includes training, human resources, customer service, marketing ... and anything else that nobody wanted to do,” Wheeler chuckled. “Rick’s done a great job with all that.”
Wheeler reminisced to the 1970s when the old Cleveland water and electric systems were merging.
“It was a lot of work to make that merger come together and for all that to happen,” Wheeler pointed out. “But Rick was right in the middle of all that for many years. It turned out well.”
Of Henderson’s promotion, which is being made from within the same Administrative Services department, Wheeler gave him a strong vote of confidence.
“Tim will do an excellent job,” Wheeler said. “Tim came to us as safety director back in the early ’90s. The biggest thing on his resume is leading our safety program. He put together a program that really improved our safety, companywide.”
He added, “In the Electric Division, we went 15 years without a lost-time accident. That’s just an incredible run, and that was due to Tim’s leadership.”
Henderson’s move to the Administrative Services leadership role is being joined by another personnel promotion, Wheeler said. Jan Runyan, who has headed the CU Human Resources Department for many years, will add to her duties the role of assistant vice president for Administrative Services. She will report to Henderson.
“[Jan] will be working hand-in-glove with Tim,” Wheeler said. “They already work together. They’ll do an excellent job to keep it going.”
In other developments during Tuesday’s session, the CU board:
n Approved a change order with Tank Pro Inc. for a decrease in the contract amount by $38,150 for the repainting and rehabilitation of the 3-million-gallon Weeks Road Water Storage Tank. The decrease reduces the contract amount from $524,195 to $486,045.
n Heard a brief Fiscal Year 2012 audit report by Mark Lay representing Arnett, Kirksey, Kimsey, Sullivan, Lay & Hall PLLC. Lay reported no findings and described it as a good audit. The CU board will review the audit report for the next month, and will be prepared to vote on it as early as the group’s next formal session — either in late December or early January.
n Approved a purchase order with G&W Electric Company (c/o Power Connections Inc.) in the amount of $51,019 for two G&W Viper Reclosers equipped with SEL 651R Controllers. These are two of three key pieces of equipment needed by Cleveland Utilities to devise a strategy for automated distribution. A third piece of equipment will be included in the next budget, according to Bart Borden, vice president of the CU Electric Division.
n Approved the purchase of a 2013 medium duty hybrid electric bucket truck with 40-foot lift and a 2013 half-ton plug-in hybrid electric pickup truck. The U.S. Department of Energy will provide all costs associated with the addition of the electric drive systems. TVA, in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute, will fund up to $60,000 of the bucket truck and $25,000 for the pickup truck costs after bidding and awarding the order. Cleveland Utilities will be responsible for an estimated $90,000 of the $150,000 hybrid electric bucket truck and an estimated $5,000 of the $30,000 hybrid electric pickup. This is part of a program promoted by TVA to encourage its distributors to introduce electric vehicles into their fleets.
n Approved an agreement with STAG GI Cleveland LLC for the transfer of a sanitary sewer easement and sewer line to Cleveland Utilities. The sewer easement and line serve properties that have been annexed, such as Charleston Hosiery and the new Cleveland Regional Jetport.
n Tentatively scheduled the next formal board session for Jan. 3, 2013, although Dec. 20, 2012, is also being considered.