Smithville Electric System has a new manager.
Michael E. Parker of Aberdeen, Mississippi was recently hired by the SES board of directors to succeed Jim Wall, who has served as manager since 2002. Wall is stepping down primarily due to health concerns.
Parker was among twenty five applicants for the job and John Nixon, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Smithville Electric System says he was the best. "We put out applications through the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association (TVPPA) and received twenty five applications and I would say that most of them were good strong applications. We got one (application) from Mr. Mike Parker who was manager of a municipal system in Mississippi. I talked to him personally and the board talked to him personally and although we received a lot of applications, we thought Mike was the best one (applicant). So we hired him and he went to work on June 15th. We have not been disappointed at all."
Smithville Electric System has been in existence since 1969 and Nixon says Parker is only the fourth person to hold the position of manager of the utility in that forty year period." The first manager was Ed Williams who only stayed a short while until he got a promotion. We then hired Mark Ashburn who stayed here until he retired in 2002. At that time we hired Jim Wall. Mr Wall's health has deteriorated some so he thought it would be best for him to do something else, or retire basically."
Parker, who is originally from Alabama, comes to Smithville after serving as General Manager for an electric utility in Okolona, Mississippi. "I was born in Arab, Alabama and we migrated to Mississippi when I was young. I spent most of my life growing up around the Columbus Air Force base in Mississippi. I've spent most of my working career in the utility business, going on thirty four years now. It's something I got into I can't seem to shake. It seems to be a fit. I've worked in a district office for a four county electric cooperative for twenty seven years and was employed for a municipal system, Okolona Electric for almost seven years. I've been very blessed and very fortunate to have this opportunity in Smithville and hope that I can carry forward what's been in place and has worked for a number of years and to address the challenges that we'll face. I hope we'll prosper and continue to grow at the same rate we have and I sincerely appreciate the confidence that this board has placed in me."
During his years for the City of Okolona, Parker managed twenty seven employees operating in Monroe, Lee, Chickasaw, and Clay Counties serving 5,300 electric consumers and 1,600 water, sewer, and sanitation consumers and oversaw a 2009 annual revenue budget of more than nine million dollars for the electric department.
Parker, who has never been to Smithville before, says he heard about the job opening here from a vendor. "I had someone who is a vendor out of Huntsville, Alabama tell me about this opportunity and suggested that it was probably something I would like, that it was a great community to live in, and that I should check it out."
Parker and his wife Debra have one daughter who is a student at Brenau University at Gainesville, Georgia. She also has a degree in Biology from Ole Miss. The Parkers will be making their home in the Green Meadows subdivision in Smithville.
Smithville Electric System is governed by a five member board of directors, who are appointed by the Mayor. Both John Nixon and Dr. W.E. Vanatta have been members of the board since the utility was established in 1969. Other current members of the board are Tony Hagan and Smithville Alderman Cecil Burger. John Bill Evins was also on the board for many years but he recently passed away. That seat currently remains vacant.
Following a luncheon and prior to the regular board meeting Wednesday, Chairman Nixon and all other members of the board thanked Mr. Wall for his years of dedicated service to Smithville Electric System and the employees of the utility were also on hand to present him a gift.