All eight candidates for Holley Navarre Water System’s (HNWS) board of directors were asked about their qualifications and the water system’s future. Board members are elected by the membership or rate payers, of the system in an election Jan. 15. Absentee ballots and proxies are currently available ahead of election day through the water system’s office.
- If elected or re-elected to the board of directors, what would your top priority be?
- What do you feel qualifies you to serve on this board?
- What is your stance on the hiring of Rob Williamson to the CEO position for HNWS? Are you concerned by the limitations put in place on Williamson by statute 112.313? Why or why not?
- Looking at the options available and dependent on the action taken by Santa Rosa County, what action needs to be taken on the agreement with Eglin Air Force Base and use of the Rapid Infiltration Basin system for effluent disposal?
- As effluent disposal needs grow, how do you plan to help the water system plan for the future? What options may be on the table?
Occupation: Owner of One Source Home Inspectors
- “If elected, my top priority would be to first understand the workings of the water company. From there I would be involved in making decisions on current and future projects to ensure that Navarre is heading in a positive direction for future growth and development.”
- “I have owned three businesses over the past 40 years of my working life. Through those years, I have learned valuable knowledge of how to interact with customers and work on ideas to ensure my businesses were working toward a common goal. That goal for me has always been to treat individuals fair and honest, to put in a hard day’s work and build solid relationships with those around me.”
- “There has been a lot of stories that have circulated around this question. I personally do not know if his hiring was done legally or not. If not, then there should be people in place to stop what has transpired. If his hiring was done legally, then I feel we should give Rob Williamson the benefit of the doubt and hope he guides Navarre in the right direction. If he does not, then next election we vote a more qualified candidate into his position.”
- “From what I have read and the map I have seen, to bring the effluent disposal onto Eglin property, it appears to be a very sound plan. I do not agree with dumping treated water in the Santa Rosa Sound. Any plan to stop that and bring the water to a safe location would be a smarter alternative.”
- “I believe we need to work on the current issue first. In the future, there will be different circumstances that will arise. If partnering with Eglin works for us now, why not take advantage of that for the future?”
Occupation: Architectural Supervisor
Education: B.A. Political Science, M.A. Public Policy
- “To thoroughly review all operational procedures to ensure safe practices are being followed; hire an independent safety inspector to inspect all facilities and draft a safety manual that meets all federal, state and local guidelines; and to review all financials to ensure the financial well-being of the water system. Train, outfit, empower (TOE): ensure all personnel have the proper training; outfit personnel with the tools they need to perform their job; thus empowering personnel to exceed all expectations, resulting in a safe, collaborative and productive work environment, to provide optimal customer service and high-quality water.”
- The ability to be objective, gather facts, research information, work well with staff and fellow board members, follow law and proper organizational procedures, communicate with membership/customers resulting in the betterment of the organization/company is something I have done at each job I’ve held since I joined the Navy (1988), in one form or another.
- “I am concerned that this job was not advertised. I am concerned that no job description with clear qualifications was completed before this decision. I am concerned that the HNWS Board didn’t follow HNWS’s personnel policy for hiring. If the current board ignored basic hiring procedures, what else have they done that is not in the best interest of the company and membership behind closed doors.”
- “Questions 4 and 5 presuppose I have information I do not have; therefore, I am uncomfortable providing an uneducated, uninformed answer to such serious issues. What I can state is that if on the board, I will take the time to speak with staff, and research each issue to ensure the best decision is made.”
- See question 4.
Occupation: Owner of SMS Consulting Inc.
Education: B.S. Computer Science from North Georgia College
- “Provide leadership to improve planning, communication, transparency and execution. Stay focused on providing outstanding water quality and a long-term solution to dispose of the waste. Work with the other board members to develop multi-year goals and plans along with the input from our membership. I would work to improve communication to the members through the website, emails and social media so ALL members can provide ideas and feedback. Transparency has been thrown around so much lately, but it is imperative that we operate on sound principles and good judgment to keep everyone informed. Use the communication methods to keep members informed on the status and progress of how well we are executing on our goals.”
- “Problem-solving is my work, life skill and talent. I have over 25 years’ experience of working on hundreds of teams with experts from around the world to provide solutions to tough problems. I have board experience serving as an officer on the board of directors for a homeowners association. As a leader, team builder and team player, I will bring clarity and vision to execute the goals of HNWS.”
- “In my opinion, the current board shamefully failed to fulfil its duties by NOT following the standard hiring policies and considering other qualified candidates nationwide. I encourage the members to review the meeting minutes. February 2018 is the first mention of a management structure change. No action is ever taken in the following months and then suddenly in November a CEO position is created and Mr. Williamson has been hired. This board had nine months to plan and execute a search for viable candidates. There is NO excuse for failing to properly plan and gather the facts before making such an important decision as a CEO for the member of HNWS.
Because Mr. Williamson was the previous County Commissioner, he may have limitations on his communication with the county and other groups due to Florida statutes. If a person cannot complete their tasks, then they are not the correct candidate.”
- “The two main options on the table appear to be the Eglin Air Force Base or an agreement with Gulf Breeze. The solution involving Eglin would be a more viable option for a long-term solution. Where a deal with Gulf Breeze would mean we are beholden to another. It is desirable that we control our own destiny and provide a solution for decades. I would need to review the details for a viable analysis and decision.”
- “When speaking to other members about HNWS, the main response I get is “Provide Excellent Water” to the community. This also means that we have to have a solution to dispose of the water we use. Once on the board, we would work to better COMMUNICATE to the owners on the different proposals and how much the solutions may cost.”
Education: Columbus College, Southern Institute of Technology, North Central Georgia Law Enforcement Academy, Quayside Real Estate School
- “The top priority must be the replacement of the clarification tank. Currently, the treatment system is functioning at 75 percent of total capacity. HNWS must replace the damaged clarification tank and get the system back to 100 percent as soon as possible. If another tank breaks down or is damaged, there is no backup, which would have a major negative impact on water service. The second priority is to make sure that equipment damage does not happen in the future with updates and/or creation of safety and operational protocols.”
- “My career experience began in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff. Then I managed a heavy timber construction company. The first taught me responsibility, accountability and working with individuals. The second taught me that a successful project starts with good planning, listening to those who do the job and managing the process. A breakdown in any of the above can impact a successful outcome. Most recently, I served on the HBTS board of directors, which showed me the value of listening to the community because, without their support, you will never be successful.”
- “The way the current board of directors hired the new CEO STINKS! The process was not transparent. The job opening should have been posted with the desired skill set, education and experience. Interviews with the best and brightest should have been conducted, and then have the top three candidates speak at a public board meeting with members allowed to ask them questions. Then the Board could initiate contract negotiations in private with the selected candidate. Once hired the employment contract should be publicly available. The current CEO cannot communicate with Santa Rosa County due to the restrictions placed by the lobbying laws and new Constitutional Amendment. Combined with a lack of technical utility experience will make success in his job difficult.”
- “There are still very many questions that need to be answered. Santa Rosa County will need to be the point organization dealing with the Air Force. The Air Force has offered a lease that probably won’t be available indefinitely. What still needs to be negotiated is will HNWS install all the necessary equipment and maintain it or will Santa Rosa County install all the necessary equipment and lease it to HNWS. These negotiations with the county are critical and need to be handled quickly before the Air Force withdraws the offer.”
- “Obviously, the Rapid Infiltration Basin system is the most sensible method. HNWS needs to work closely with Santa Rosa County to make sure this happens. The other options are to provide the water to members for yard irrigation. These plans have been on the table for years and all of the new subdivisions are required have a system in place for this. The current use of the golf course, once other avenues are available, could serve as a backup spray field.”
Occupation: Retired Army officer
- “The collaboration with Santa Rosa County in securing Eglin AFB land for HNWS’s construction of a Rapid Infiltration Basin (RIB) would be the top priority. It is the long-term solution the HNWS needs to ensure its ability to serve our members for the foreseeable future. There are several other important issues which would be a priority for me: complete review of the CEO hiring; focus Management on getting the million gallon filtration site constructed; action to mitigate the damage to the Club at Hidden Creek caused by the need to spray an excessive amount of effluent on to the course; development of 1-year, 5-year and 20-year business plans to guide us into the future; enhance the customer (member) experience by ensuring our employees value our ownership; and take action to determine how best to proceed in improving fire safety through the addition of additional fire hydrants in the HNWS area.”
- “As a collaborative leader, who believes in and will actively pursue the development of a stakeholder created future vision for the HNWS, I am uniquely qualified to facilitate this process and bring it to fruition for our members (owners). More importantly, our “owners” can count on my integrity to guide my decision making on the critical issues confronting our water system.”
- “When one recognizes that securing HNWS’s use of Eglin AFB land through Santa Rosa County is the single most important need of the system, one can only conclude that Mr. Williamson’s hiring was not in the best interests of our members. FL Statute 112.313 completely eliminates his ability to weigh-in on this, the most important issue facing HNWS’s long term viability! It is my understanding that he cannot talk to anyone at the county (commissioners, management and employees). Six current members of the HNWS board of directors determined that their personal agendas were more important than the future welfare of the system itself! I would call for an immediate review of all actions taken to hire him to determine his ability to meet the demands of HNWS CEO.”
- “HNWS’s funding of the construction of a Rapid Infiltration Basin (RIB) system, on Eglin AFB land leased by Santa Rosa County is the only viable, long-term solution to our effluent disposal needs! The critical action is for the HNWS Board and Management to put a full court press on making this happen by working hand in hand with the county. No other action is as important to the successful fulfillment of our water quality and waste water management missions then getting this partnership with the county completed – It is Job One!”
- “Opening the RIB on Eglin AFB will provide the essential infrastructure necessary to sustain our increasing effluent disposal needs. I believe that HNWS’s investment in the RIB will prove to be as significant an event as the original founding of HNWS. There are no other options I would pursue, they are all short-term, costly stopgap measures. We need to act on a long-term solution now.”
Multiple attempts were made to contact Aguirre, but no response was given. Aguirre has been on the board since July. Navarre Press will continue to seek Aguirre’s response and requests he call our office at 850-710-7013 (reporter’s desk.)
Larson declined to answer these questions. Larson has served on the board since July and serves as secretary/treasurer for the water system.
Multiple attempts were made to contact Jones, but no response was given. Navarre Press will continue to seek Jones’s response and requests she call our office at 850-710-7013 (reporter’s desk.)
As seen in the Dec. 13 issue of Navarre Press.
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