Ken Webb to head Cleveland Utilities

Ken Webb to head Cleveland Utilities

September 28th, 2013 by Paul Leach in Business Around the Region

Ken Webb

Ken Webb

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Cleveland Utilities Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Ken Webb will officially replace Tom Wheeler as president and CEO on Tuesday.

Wheeler, whose last day was Friday, served as Cleveland Utilities' leader for 24 out of the nearly 43 years he worked there. Webb led the utility's financial division for 24 years, since two years after he joined the utility as a senior accountant.

In a recent meeting with the utility board, Wheeler said the utility's commitment to professional service, fiscal security and competitive rates remained in good hands.

"It's been an effort of all 200 employees to get [Cleveland Utilities] where it is," Wheeler said. "I'm just one employee that's leaving. The people that are here know the business well, and they'll do a good job."

Speaking to the Cleveland Rotary Club this week, Wheeler said he will most miss the people at the utility.

"I'm an engineer and I love building things and engineering stuff, but I really enjoy the relationship I had with the people of Cleveland Utilities," he said.

During the meeting, the board passed a resolution that expressed "heartfelt thanks and tremendous appreciation to Tom Wheeler for his dedication and devotion to Cleveland Utilities during his many years of service."

In other business, the utility continues to advance projects intended to improve the flow on major traffic corridors and rehabilitate the city's waste water system.

The utility board voted 3-0 to approve an $84,000 purchase of 14 long-term flow monitoring devices for city's sewer network.

The devices are needed, Wheeler said, to collect data on where and how much storm water is infiltrating the waste water system through pipe and manhole leaks, which contributes to sewage overflows. Monitors also assist in evaluating the success of rehabilitative efforts.

Flow monitors serve a critical role in Cleveland Utilities' 10-year plan to eliminate the worst infiltration problems to its waste water system, said Craig Mullinax, vice president of the utility's water division. Detection work also includes non-toxic smoke tests and manual inspections of manholes.

In traffic signal projects, Wavetronix radar detection equipment has been installed at the intersection of Keith Street and Inman Street, said Bart Borden, vice president of the electric division.

He said the new traffic signal control system is working well.

Also, new LED signal heads have been installed at the intersection of Paul Huff Parkway and Georgetown Road, Borden said. The new fixtures are expected to generate energy and maintenance savings.

"The energy savings to the City of Cleveland is about six times that of incandescent signal heads," he said. "The maintenance cost for Cleveland Utilities is less due to the longer life of the LED lights."

From a safety perspective, the LED lights are brighter and more visible to drivers, Borden said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at