published Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Tom Wheeler leaving utility CEO post

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Tom Wheeler plans to retire from his post as CEO for Cleveland Utilities after nearly 43 years of service.

Wheeler recently made his announcement to the utility board, stating his intention to leave in early October.

"My desire was to retire, leaving Cleveland Utilities in good shape to continue to serve the needs of our customers for many years to come," said Wheeler in a letter to the board. "I feel I have accomplished this goal."

Wheeler also commended the dedication, training and motivation of the utility's employees in his letter.

"I believe I am leaving a workforce that will have no problem continuing the high level of service we have tried to develop during my time at Cleveland Utilities," he said.

Wheeler oversaw the launch of one of CU's most ambitious projects: a 10-year program to rehabilitate the city's wastewater system to eliminate sewer overflows from stormwater.

A replacement for Wheeler, who was the utility's top official for most of his time there, has not been announced.

In other business, officials discussed improvements to the electric division's traffic signal department and an interchange project on Interstate 75.

The electric division's new, automated Miovision camera system already has saved money, said Bart Borden, division vice president.

The labor-saving, pole-mounted device was used to collect traffic data for the intersection of 25th Street and Peerless Road, Borden said. Now other intersections are being videotaped. Civil engineering consultant firm Canon and Canon confirmed that submitted data was good.

Using the device saves about $550 per intersection compared to having workers perform traffic counts, he said.

"After just four intersection counts, the equipment itself will be paid for," said Borden.

CU's traffic light maintenance department also recently bought an intersection simulation test board to replace one created in-house 35 years ago. The board, which resembles a traffic intersection map and features color-coded LED lights, is used to test traffic light programming before changes are made to actual street signals, Borden said.

He also said a traffic signal project is on the horizon for exit 33 on Interstate 75 at Charleston, Tenn. A recent safety audit by the Tennessee Department of Transportation indicated the need for signalization of the northbound ramp and striping improvements.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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