Franklin, IOW name SPSA nomineees

Published 9:17 am Friday, November 6, 2009

FRANKLIN—Last week, the city nominated three residents for membership on the new Board of Directors of the Southeastern Public Service Authority.

The nominees, Steve Ramey, Jamie Weist and Everett Williams, are under consideration by Gov. Tim Kaine, who will pick one to represent the city on the board.

Isle of Wight County also named its nominees to the SPSA board — Theodore Hardison and Win Winslow. A third nominee dropped out, according to county spokesman Don Robertson.

Nominees selected by the governor will serve four-year terms and can serve for no more than two consecutive terms. The law also stipulates that nominees must “possess general business knowledge, and shall not be elected officials.”

Franklin, along with the other seven communities served by SPSA, was required to pick three residents willing to serve on the board and send their names to the governor. The new board will take over on Jan. 1.

SPSA’s member localities also need to select an “ex officio” member for the board. An ex officio member must be a locality employee.

Ramey, the chief financial officer at Southampton Memorial Hospital and a Franklin resident for six years, said he was initially caught off guard when he was approached with the nomination, but is confident he would be able to serve as an adept board member.

“I thought I could do it,” he said. “I have a good financial background.”

While he wasn’t aware of specific changes he would push for in SPSA if selected, Ramey said financial management is definitely key.

“I do believe they have to get their costs under control,” he said. “There needs to be equity between the different cities and counties involved.”

Weist, a Southampton County native who served as Franklin’s public works director for more than eight years, said he was “a little bit surprised” when he was approached by the city to be a nominee to the board.

“I probably have some unique qualifications,” Weist said, noting the fact that he is a civil engineer and also has experience dealing with SPSA when he worked for the city.

“I’m familiar with the organization and the city,” Weist said.

Like Ramey, Weist said the organization’s finances are a top concern.

“We’ve got eight or nine years to figure out how to service all the debt,” Weist said, adding that tipping fees and rates should be kept as low as possible.

Williams, a retired engineer with Ford Motor Co. and a Franklin resident since 2001, declined to comment about his nomination.

City councilman Barry Cheatham, who currently serves as the city’s representative on the SPSA board, said that he would be satisfied if any of the three nominees are picked by the governor, and he will be available to answer any questions they may have.

“I think we have three nominees who completely fill the bill. Two have engineering backgrounds and one is a CPA,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I want to thank the nominees for stepping up and representing the city at SPSA.”

Cheatham said that SPSA “is on the right track” by looking to sell its assets and the current board has received “a great deal of unwarranted criticism.”

“We were the board to increase fees and to take a stand that living off of debt could no longer be tolerated,” he wrote. “SPSA is now being run as a business as it should have always been.”

In Isle of Wight County, Hardison, a Windsor resident, recently retired as a business consultant and before that he spent 43 years working with a large company and spent several of those years devoted to innovative processes and cost reduction.

“I’ve been interested in community service all my life,” he said. “Since I had left a full-time job I wanted to give back.”

Like the other nominees, he said he would take a hard look at SPSA’s expenditures, if he’s selected to serve on the board.

“I’ll look for processes and expenditures, particularly processes where finances are involved,” Hardison said.

Attempts to reach Winslow for comment were unsuccessful.

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors nominated three people in September for a seat on the new Board of Directors of SPSA.

The county nominated Roy Chesson of Zuni, Ron Cornwell of Sedley and Glenn Updike of Newsoms for membership on the SPSA board. Kaine is scheduled to review the nominations through Dec. 15.