Frank White, Chief Operator for Water and Waste Water for the City of Parsons is retiring at the end of the year. White has been chief for six years and has 37 years in the industry.
Not from Tucker County, White showed his dedication to the position by traveling the 150 miles from his home in Richwood, (Nicholas County) West Virginia each week. He would be on hand Mondays through Wednesdays often staying over at the water plant to make sure everything needed was done.
When White became Chief Operator, the City was under two consent orders from the West Virginia DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) for the Waste Water Treatment Plant. The city water system was also losing 65% of the water it produced.
White, who holds two certifications, both Class III water plant operator and Class II waste water plant operator, is a team-player, and shied away from taking credit for the improvements made during his employ.
“I made recommendations to Parsons City Council and Mayor, after the problems were brought to their attention they approved funding and took the steps to fix them”, said White.
Parsons City Administrator, Jason Myers praised White. “With 30 years of knowledge, Frank has been a valued asset to the City of Parsons. With that knowledge he’s brought drastic improvements to both the water and waste water systems.”
When White was hired the water system was leaking out of old pipes at a rate of loss over 60%. Since that time he has overseen two major water line projects (one is still ongoing) installing thousands of feet of water lines and service lines. Water service was extended to both Moore and Porterwood under his watch.
“That project (Moore and Porterwood) didn’t cost the citizens of Parsons a penny. It was done with grant money”, said White. “The city will benefit from the sale of the water and the citizens of Moore and Porterwood will benefit from having clean, safe water.”
White’s passion for his field shows when he starts talking about it, often firing off in rapid succession technical descriptions of ongoing improvements. Gone are the days of the meter reader struggling to locate or open the meter cover to read each meter. The Moore and Porterwood system will be radio read meters. The city worker will simply drive by each location and it will be read by a radio transmitter. The Parsons water meters, which are still in the process of being upgraded, will be a touch read system. The meter reader will simply touch the meter with a wand which downloads it to a hand-held computer device. The device is then taken back and put into the city’s main computer.
Upon White’s hire, the water plant had to run 15-16 hours a day to keep up; since the improvements, the plant now only has to run 7-8 hours a day. More efficient in less time (and not losing nearly as much water) the operational cost to produce water for the city has been significantly reduced. The filter media in both filters has been changed with 250 square feet of surface area, which should last the city twenty more years. They’ve changed every valve in the plant including upgrading two to automated valves that physically control the filters. They were manual before and susceptible to possible drain-out and dry-up. Emergency generators have been installed for the water treatment plant and the rural water stations, so now during long-term power outages they should not run out of water.
White had a list of many things that had been improved at the waste water facility.
“We installed a State of the Art aeration system, which was the first of its kind east of the Mississippi at the time. An article about it was featured in TPO (Treatment Plant Operators magazine, a national trade magazine.)
Some other improvement included, but certainly aren’t limited to;
*A containment basin was built around the arc rake.
*A long-term control plan for waste-water collection system was developed.
*Five permitted outfall flow meters were installed.
*Electronic rain gauge was installed. (This measures rain fall events so it can be correlated with the amount of water discharged so that it’s known how much storm water was being pumped into the sewage system).
*Lines separated for storm water. ( So it wouldn’t run into the City’s sewage system).
White added; “If you run storm water into your sewage system, it increases your operational cost because of the additional load. If you can control operational costs you can also control rate increases.”
Both systems saw the addition of a State of the Art Telemetry System which physically monitors them and allows White to be miles away and still know what needs done by simply viewing the operations on computer. It even gives him an automated call if something needs his attention, allowing him to call someone close by to address the situation.
With all the improvements he’s overseen, White still makes sure to point out others accomplishments.
“Last year City Administrator Jason Myers was awarded Manager of the Year by the West Virginia Rural Water Association. Only one is awarded in the whole state. This year Carol Hebb won West Virginia Rural Water Association’s Office Manager of the Year. That speaks volumes of the caliber of people you have here. I made the recommendations but they and the City Commission were the ones who carried them out.”
John “Red” Lipscomb will succeed White. Lipscomb holds a Class II water and Class I sewage certification and just attended school to be certified as a Chief Operator.
When asked why he planned to retire, White quipped: “I’m old! I’ve been doing this 37 years and I want to be with my Grandkids. My youngest is six years old and she thinks I should be with her all the time… and I agree!”
Carol Hebb said: “Frank is the most generous, caring, giving man I’ve ever worked with. I hate to see him go.”
Parson’s loss is definitely some lucky grandchildren’s gain.