Sunday, February 24, 2013

Southworth, who knows water, sewers and cities, leaning against sale to Kentucky-American Water

By Courtney Ehrler
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
One of a series of looks at new City Council members.

Bruce Southworth has already taken on multiple leadership roles for the cities of Midway and Versailles, but he now adds Midway city council member to the list.

Southworth posed with other
members at their first meeting.
Southworth brings an extensive background of water and sewer knowledge to the council, which is a major asset as Midway is faced with the important decision of what to do with its own water and sewer systems. Right now, Southworth says he’s leaning against selling to Kentucky American Water Co.

“With me, I think control is what you need. If you can keep the system to yourself, then you don't have to depend on somebody else,” he said. “That's the way I’m leaning right now, but I don't have all the information. . . . So until we can get the information… I really can’t make a decision. I guess that's where I’m leaning now. I’m not convinced that the first thing to do is sell.”

Southworth said he ran for the council to use his professional experiences to give back to his community. In his 27 years of public service, he served as water treatment plant operator in Georgetown for six years, wastewater treatment plant operator in Midway for 11 years, as well as city administrator for Versailles for several years. In 2011, he retired after six years as the public works director for Versailles.

Midway is in the process of deciding whether to sell its system to Kentucky American, the city’s water supplier since the 1980s, or finance the cost of renovation, estimated at $8.4 million for a complete job.  Mayor Tom Bozarth created a task force in March 2011 to study the issue, and the first of three public hearings on the issue was held Feb. 7.

Southworth said he is looking for the best alternative for the city. “Let’s look at all the options,” he said. “I’m open to anything. Let’s not jump to the first thing that comes along.”

Reflecting his experience in water and sewer operation, Southworth has been assigned to the Water and Sewer Committee. He has also been appointed to the Garbage and Recycling and Streets and Sidewalks committees.

Asked about his specific goals for the two-year council term, Southworth said there was going to be a lot on the council's plate this year.
“I know there are things that need to be done, but let me get a little farther along in the year and then see what we’ve got,” he  said. But he has no doubt that utilities are the main issue.

“There’s always the little stuff,” he said. “You always have the everyday stuff … But, I think that's the biggest issue facing us right now.”

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