New water superintendent ready for challenges

GREENFIELD — Cold weather that’s lasted into the first week of March has been a challenge for the water utility department and its new superintendent, Chuck Gill.

The department has had to deal with at least five water main breaks since Gill started Feb. 2. And those breaks weren’t the warm welcome he hoped for.

He’s excited for the weather to warm up and to start working toward the goals he’s set for the water utility.

And he’s looking forward to familiarizing himself with the city and its citizens. Gill replaces former water superintendent Mike Fannin, who resigned in November.

A Hancock County native who recently moved back from Virginia, Gill said he’s excited about his new position and to help make the water utility the best it can be.

The water department is responsible for maintaining the water used by residents and businesses in Greenfield and maintains and repairs the city’s water distribution and storage systems.

Gill graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1996 and joined the United States Navy, spending at least four and a half years of his life on a ship.

In 2003, when his daughter was born, he left the Navy and took what he thought was his dream job of teaching martial arts in Virginia.

But babies, he learned, are expensive, and he needed to find a full-time career that would support his family.

In 2006, he started working for the Hampton Roads (Virginia) sanitation department.

Earlier this year, when the position for the city’s water superintendent opened, Gill saw a perfect opportunity.

He could continue in his career path and be closer to home.

“… I couldn’t pass it up,” he said. “It was an excellent challenge. It was a chance to grow.”

Mayor Chuck Fewell said he’s happy Gill, who was living in Virginia at the time, learned about the job and applied.

“We were very lucky that he wanted to move home … the city of Greenfield gained a good employee with a lot of good leadership traits,” Fewell said.

Utilities director Mike Fruth said Gill stood out among a number of candidates.

“We had many people apply for the position, and he was the best,” Fruth said. “And he’s from the area, so it worked out well.”

There isn’t a typical day in his new job, Gill said. But since starting, his days usually begin around 7 a.m. and don’t end until dinnertime or later.

Several times, he’s worked until 2 or 3 a.m., helping crews make needed repairs to water lines damaged by cold weather.

When it’s as cold as it has been, water main breaks aren’t atypical, he said. In fact, Greenfield’s system has handled the cold well this year, he said.

“Especially with this weather, it’s been an extraordinary challenge,” he said. “Our team has been outstanding.”

Now that the cold weather seems to be moving out of Greenfield, Gill’s hopeful the department can begin focusing on the goals he’s already set.

Those include training for all employees and working to exceed the water quality standard set by federal and state agencies for water departments.

“One of my major goals is to make us the best water utility we can be. Ultimately, I’d like for us to be one other utilities can look up to,” he said.

He wants to invest in the department’s training programs, including its apprenticeship program.

“Training is going to be a tremendous focus for us to meet that goal,” he said.

And as it achieves those goals, he’ll set new ones for the department, he said. He wants to ensure the utility is customer-oriented and he is available to citizens who need him.

“I care about this job tremendously,” he said. “This is my hometown, and I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

About the office

Water Utility

Superintendent – Chuck Gill

Start date – Feb. 2

Salary – $58,078 (for 90-day probational period)

Duties – oversees the operations of the water department, which maintains the water used by residents and businesses in Greenfield by maintaining the city’s storage and distribution systems.

Address – 451 Meek St.

Phone number – 317-477-4350

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.