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Dennis Daniel, electric division manager for Cleveland Utilities

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Dennis Daniel, electric division manager for Cleveland Utilities, will retire in December after nearly 39 years of service.

General manager Tom Wheeler announced Daniel's retirement last week. Daniel has held the reins for the utility's electric division for 23 years.

"It is a sad day for me," said Wheeler. "I guess we felt like we've worked together forever."

Daniel has been a "steadying influence" during times of crisis, said Wheeler, citing his leadership and dedication during the 1993 blizzard, Y2K and the tornadoes of April 27.

"Dennis, we're going to miss you," said Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland. "You've done a great job for us."

Wheeler said Daniel had "left a big imprint on Cleveland Utilities."

Daniel initially worked as a co-op student for Cleveland Electric System before its unification with Cleveland Water in 1971, according to Wheeler.

He came on board full time as a "whiz bang" distribution engineer in April, 1973 and soon took charge of engineering.

Daniel played an instrumental role in upgrading the utility's electrical receiving capacity in the mid-1970s, said Wheeler, who also advised that most municipalities lacked the expertise to comply with TVA's initiatives at that time.

"The best thing we had going for us is that we didn't know we couldn't do it, but we went ahead and did it anyway," said Wheeler.

"We've got a lot of good people at Cleveland Utilities and I'd like to take credit for hiring them, but I didn't," said Wheeler. "Dennis hired a lot of the people we have now, and he made a lot of good choices."

"If I had known Tom thought that highly of me, I would have asked for a raise," joked Daniel.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at