|Hitting the ground running
On his first day on the job, newly hired Loudon Public Works Director Ellis Scruggs began working with a contractor to negotiate the bid on a road construction project off Smokey Drive.
“Fortunately, Larry (Jenkins) has been fantastic,” Scruggs said. “Larry took me over there and I kind of had an idea of what I was talking about before the meeting.”
Still getting his feet wet, Scruggs has already been plenty busy with upcoming and ongoing projects.
Ty Ross, Loudon city manager, is confident Scruggs will fit the position.
“Public works department is somewhat more than just sanitation and rubbish pickup and streets,” Ross said. “It’s a, I believe, a growing department with coming responsibilities to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, coming stormwater regulations down the road. You need somebody in that position to absorb some of those responsibilities.”
Scruggs will grow into the position as it evolves into something more than in the past. What that looks like remains a question mark.
“They saw it was a little bit more broader scope and I think that’s still in development,” Scruggs said. “I don’t think that’s really evolved yet. It’s something that Ty and I are going to work on maybe even this week, looking at the broader picture and maybe what the plan is.”
Part of what made Scruggs right for the job is engineering experience. He worked for more than 10 years at Reliant Industries, a utility company in Iowa, starting off as an engineer and transitioning to maintenance manager. He later worked at hydro facilities for Alcoa.
“Working at the dams with Alcoa and then when Brookfield (Renewable) bought them from Alcoa, I really got involved with civil (engineering),” Scruggs said. “Everything you do with the hydros is basically civil work, so we had a couple of large projects we had to do, some major concrete repairs. ... So I’ve certainly been around a lot of the civil projects and managed those — it’s just not what my background was initially. I’m evolving into it.”
Most recently, Scruggs worked at Viskase, where he heard about the city position.
“I was the maintenance manager there and (a maintenance worker) had mentioned he thought I would be a good fit for what they’re looking for,” Scruggs said. “I looked at the posting and didn’t think I was the candidate they wanted because they were looking for somebody with more of a civil background. I still put my name for it and got the call. When I started talking with John Canada and met with Ty Ross, the job was very appealing, very attractive to me.”
Scruggs is in the process of relocating to Loudon.
“It’s a beautiful town,” he said. “Everyone I’ve met has just been fantastic. I live in Maryville and it’s a little different culture there, but I’ve been very impressed with Loudon.”
Coming on board just as the city begins to embark on large-scale riverfront revitalization is an exciting prospect for Scruggs.
“I am absolutely excited to be coming on board at a time when we’ve got new ideas,” he said. “There’s a lot of new, fresh ideas and concepts and I want to be part of that. That was actually one of the things that attracted me to the position.”
Ross has seen that enthusiasm in Scruggs, which is one of the reasons he was the right fit for Loudon.
“He expressed a similar enthusiasm and desire for making Loudon look and feel better,” Ross said.