Florala hires new superintendent

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Florala Police officer Chris Jackson will soon make the transition from law man to utilities man after being hired as the new Florala Utilities Board superintendent Monday.

The board, which provides water, sewer and gas services to Florala and parts of Florida, has been without a superintendent since the 2012 arrest of former superintendent Michael Holley for possession of child pornography. Holley has since pleaded guilty; however, the board’s field employees have been without supervision.

Jackson, who currently works as a policeman with the Florala Police Department, was interviewed with current utility board employee John Kimbril and Michael McVay, a Southeast Alabama Gas District employee. The three were chosen from the six total applicants.

Board members agreed Jackson had the leadership qualities needed to “bring unity and respect” back to the board.

Jackson worked in the watershed management, construction and engineering fields before becoming a policeman.

When questioned why he would want to work for the utility board, Jackson said, “I followed in my dad’s footsteps and became a cop, but I’m getting older. (As the superintendent) I might be sprayed with the (water) hose, but I won’t get shot.

“I used to work in civil engineering, and I always loved that type of work,” Jackson said. “It’s a field that I love. I love this community, and I believe that I could benefit the community.

“In law enforcement, you can’t be everyone’s friend,” he said. “I’m getting older, and I’d like to move on to something I could retire out of; something with less risk.”

The board set Jackson’s salary at $40,000 a year, with a one-year probationary period. He must obtain all applicable certifications within a year.

Jackson said he plans to encourage professional development, high employee morale and the establishment of a preventative maintenance plan for the board’s three utility systems.

Board members deliberated for more than an hour on each candidate’s merits before voting.

“It’s important to restore the public’s trust in the utility board,” Jackson said. “To do that, you listen to people and let them know that they’re important. That’s what we need to do.”

The board asked that Jackson report for work as soon as feasibly possible.