By Chris Edwards
SPURGER – At its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday morning, the Tyler County Special Utility District recognized its general manager Jerry Lovelady for outstanding service.
Lovelady, who has served as GM of the utility district for 14 years, was hired due to his experience with water systems, following a statewide search. Jim Boone, who is the outgoing president of the organization, said that when Lovelady was hired, the utility district was suffering due to theft and “gross mismanagement.”
Boone said it was during this time that he was elected to the board and has watched the organization “pull itself out and up to become one of the top rural water suppliers in the state.”
Boone recalled an incident when Lovelady came onboard, at the first board meeting he was at, a group of customers from the Rockland area brought jars of discolored water with them, which Boone likened to the color of chocolate milk.
“With his recommendation we cleared up Rockland, and we haven’t had, to my knowledge, another Rockland customer come up and complain about the water in 14 years,” Boone said.
Boone also highlighted Lovelady’s clearing up of multiple TCEQ violations, which prior management “either ignored or failed to understand,” which kept the utility district from shutting down.
Lovelady has attained a bachelor of science degree, a master’s in public administration and completed post-graduate work in management and environmental science, along with holding the highest level of TCEQ water and wastewater licenses. He is also a certified instructor in licensing education, which Boone said has been a cost-saving credential.
Boone said all of the utility district’s projects are done with its own people, who are trained by Lovelady.
“Mr. Lovelady has saved Tyler County SUD over $18,000 over the years in that he trains our own employees at no cost,” Boone said. Water workers must be state-certified and licensed with specific training in the areas specific to their work.
Boone presented Lovelady with a clear crystal sculpture from the SUD’s board of directors with text honoring him etched onto it.
Lovelady said he appreciates the board of directors, and that in his 54 years of working with water districts, the SUD board is the best board he has worked for. “We have accomplished a lot for our customers and for the district,” he said.