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New Johnson City Power Board CEO chosen

Madison Mathews • Nov 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM

The Johnson City Power Board’s board of directors on Tuesday unanimously voted to appoint Jeff Dykes, general manager of nearby Newport Utilities, as the utility’s president and CEO.

Dykes will begin serving in his new position at the Power Board on Jan. 2, 2013.

The decision at this morning’s special called meeting came after months of deliberation as the board pared down its list of candidates from 49 original applicants to six finalists who underwent a thorough interview and vetting process.

“It really gave us the opportunity to look at them objectively, and I think based on that and based on the needs of the Power Board in the future, we’ve come up with a candidate that we feel like is going to be able to best meet those needs as we go forward,” Chairwoman Jenny Brock said.

Dykes, a native of Elizabethton, has served as general manager of Newport Utilities since April 2011. The utility provides electric, water and wastewater services to Cocke County and portions of Jefferson and Sevier counties.

“Johnson City is an area that has got a lot of opportunities to grow and has not seen some of the downturn like a lot of other areas around with the economy. I think it’s a great area and a great opportunity for the growth of not only the system but for the community. I’m really looking forward to that opportunity,” Dykes said Tuesday afternoon from his Newport office.

Prior to serving at Newport, Dykes was vice president and general manager of Trigen Kansas City Energy/Trigen Missouri Energy/Veolia Energy North America. His other experience includes general manager of Elizabethton Electric System and power supervisor/project construction liaison and project manager/engineer for Westinghouse Savannah River Company.

Dykes is a graduate of Milligan College.

Brock said Dykes’ broad experience with utilities and power distribution in both the private and public sectors made him the leading candidate in their search for a replacement for Homer G’Fellers, who served with the utility for 38 years.

“The breadth of his experience positions him in a way that we’re going to be able to look and address some of the issues we think we’re going to be facing in the next five to 10 years. Bringing those kind of private principles into a public utility is going to be invaluable, I think,” she said.

Throughout the interview process, Brock said Dykes had a strong vision for the future of the utility as Board members look at expanding services through telecommunications.

Aside from looking forward to returning to the Tri-Cities region, Dykes said he is excited to work with area councils and organizations to better both the system and the infrastructure of the area, while contributing to Washington County’s economic development.

“We’re there, for one, to serve our ratepayers and make sure we provide a good product and service to them, and to keep the rates as low as possible, but we’re also there to help the community grow, because when the community grows that helps everyone. I think the Power Board can really be instrumental in working with the community and leaders in doing that,” Dykes said.

The Power Board’s former CEO received a base salary of $150,000 annually. Brock said the board will negotiate Dykes’ salary not to exceed that amount.

Brent Kitzmiller, the utility’s chief financial officer, will continue to serve as the utility’s interim president and CEO until Dykes assumes his new role next year.

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