In the wake of an accident that cost Holley Navarre Water System at least at least a quarter of its sewage treatment capacity and perhaps more than $1 million in repairs, one manager has been terminated and another will retire.
Board member Brett Ramsey told the Navarre Press that Zach Lewis, the wastewater plant manager who was put on probation earlier this month after 1.5-million tank was mistakenly drained and irreparably damaged was terminated last week.
The damage occurred when the tank moved because of a lack of ballast.
Although HNWS General Manager Paul Gardner blamed Lewis for the mishap, he also recommended against firing his subordinate—a 20-year veteran at the utility.
But the board decided last week to let Lewis go, Ramsey confirmed.
Now Gardner has told this newspaper he will retire on Dec. 31, although he said he notified the board of that plan last January. Apparently no public notice of Gardner’s impending retirement has been made.
Gardner has worked at HNWS since 1986 and weathered considerable tumult in 2017 and 2018: including a shakeup in the seven-member board.
Gardner’s most likely successor is apparently Phil Phillips, the company’s senior engineer.
Under established protocol at the plant, Phillips—who is essentially the utility’s second in command—wasn’t notified before the damaged tank was drained. The tank, which is called a clarifier, is a holding device in which solids are separated from wastewater at the treatment plant on Pepper Drive.
Gardner said of his retirement: “This is something I’m looking forward to after 32 years. I do have other opportunities to pursue after HNWS if I decide to.”