The interim CEO of Fayetteville’s public utility, presiding at his first board meeting on Wednesday, praised his leadership team for working together during a period of transition.
Mick Noland was named interim CEO and general manager of the Public Works Commission after the resignation of Elaina Ball effective Sept. 2.
Ball, who had been CEO since late 2020, returned to Texas to take a new job in her home state.
She was the first woman CEO of the utility and, though on the job for a relatively short stint, is credited with playing a significant role in a number of accomplishments for PWC.
Noland has been with the utility for 30 years.
“This is Mr. Noland’s first time in that chair, I believe,” PWC Chairwoman Evelyn Shaw said at the start of the brief meeting. “We could not have found a finer person or a more competent person.”
In his general manager’s report, Noland pledged continuity.
“With the leadership staff here at PWC — the chief officers and directors and other supervisory people up and down the line — we will do what we’ve always been doing.”
Customer expectations are a priority, he said.
“We’re talking about water and electricity being important,” Noland said. “But we can’t forget about the water reclamation. Because every gallon we put in our customers’ (supply), a lot of it we have to clean up before we put it back in the river before it goes downstream.”
Noland said he appreciates the good work the water division does to make sure water is clean before it goes back into the Cape Fear River.
He said there had been a lot of change since PWC last met in regular session.
“I feel like we’ve hit the ground running,” he said. “There are various issues that we’re working on that have been in play. Some of them are somewhat new to the situation. But we’ve got a good group up here. We’re working together. Everybody has their area of expertise that I’m certainly going to lean on very heavily.”
Noland said the utility continues to shift some staff members around “to try to meet the needs of the company and the leadership staff.” They include Misty Manning, PWC’s water resources engineering manager, who has agreed to fill in for Noland in his former job as interim chief operations officer.
John Allen of the engineering department will assume Manning’s full-time role on an interim basis.
“To deal with the companywide issues, I like to kind of simplify things,” Noland said. “I look at the utility as like a three-legged stool. You’ve got your customers, you’ve got your staff and then you’ve got to look at the company, as well. If any of those don’t match up right, then things will get out of balance.”
Noland said one of the utility’s long-running projects — the groundwater cleanup at a former Texfi Industries mill — is moving forward.
“We hope to be on the ground and getting it started very soon,” he said. “We’ve gotten all the approvals and permits and the discussions with the state. We’re ready to start moving ahead on that.
Meanwhile, an orientation for the new PWC board is scheduled for Sept. 22.
The management staff will be on hand to give rundowns of ongoing work and start getting those involved more familiar with “all the inner workings of PWC,” said Noland.
During his tenure at PWC, Noland has been recognized for his advocacy of a safe water supply and protecting the Lower Cape Fear River Basin, PWC materials say.
Under his leadership, PWC successfully challenged interbasin transfer requests from communities north of Fayetteville that would have affected Fayetteville’s long-term water supply. Over the past decade, he has advocated for water quality and preventing contamination of the Cape Fear River.
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at email@example.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.