A committee, made
up of Lenoir City Utilities Board (LCUB) members, made its
choice Thursday to recommend Shannon Littleton as the person to
fill LCUB's general manager position.
committee is set to recommending to the full LCUB board that it
hire Littleton, who now holds the assistant general manager
post, as well as city attorney, according to members of the
committee. The board is scheduled to meet 4 p.m. in the city
The search committee received 29 applicants for the position.
Chaired by Pat Beasley, it had already narrowed the field from
29 to five - Chris Brewer of Burbourville, Ky.; Ronald Fuller of
Washington, La.; Littleton; David Trego of Wyomissing, Pa.; and
Charles Ward of Riverton, Wy.
Thursday, the committee again went over the applicants' salary
requests, compensation packages and experience before they
narrowed the choices to three. Of those, one was not available
for another interview until Monday and another was interviewed
by phone. Littleton was available for a personal interview. "I
can manage this utility," he said. "There is not an aspect of
this utility I am not aware of, that I have not touched in the
past. "I believe that, if I'm given the opportunity, in a very
short order this board will see that they can very easily have
the confidence and see the things I have discussed today will
come to pass."
Littleton related how he is aware of issues confronting LCUB and
described plans in place to deal with those issues. He also
related his dealings with employees on a day-to-day basis, as
well has his experience in arbitration and negotiations. "My
recollection is we have never lost an arbitration," he said.
He said he has directly managed several departments and
contracting crews, other legal counsels and engineering
firms. "The board knows my demeanor," he said. "I'm a very
easy-going person; but when it gets tough, I can take care of
the situation." Beasley asked how Littleton would communicate
with the board. "I think communication with the board is very,
very important," Littleton said. "If we have an incident of
magnitude the board needs to be aware of, I will personally pick
up the phone and notify the board."
Concerning issues of normal business operations, he said he
intends to work with the board to develop some form of liaison
to the board. He suggested the budget committee as that liaison.
Should LCUB choose Littleton as general manager, it will need to
consider additions to the payroll to hire a new assistant
general manager and a new city attorney, Matt Brookshire
advised. "You're an attorney by education and trade, this
(taking the position as general manager) could be considered a
change in career path, Committee member and LCUB member Joel
Garber noted before he asked Littleton to reply to that. "Yes it
is," Littleton said. "Early on, I recognized that I have a love
for the utility system. "Fortunately, I had the municipal legal
background to understand the operations and the legal business
perspective before I got here," he said. "So, I fully understand
what I'm getting into. I like it. A legal profession doesn't
excite me as much as being general manager of LCUB; but I do
have a love for the legal profession and I believe what I can
bring to the table - what you will see with the larger utilities
- is that they are becoming much more business like. They
(general managers) are MBAs."
He noted there is
an attorney serving as manager or assistant manager of a Memphis
utility company. "I think I can bring a lot to the table, by
being a lawyer; but I am prepared to make a career change and
become general manager," he said.
Littleton has been with LCUB part-time since 1999. In 1999 and
most of 2000, he was sitting in for the city attorney at that
time. His employment as city attorney became permanent in 2001.
In 2004, when Fred Nelson became general manager, Littleton was
given title as assistant general manager, in addition to his
role as city attorney.
Following the interview, committee members deliberated on their
choices with a preference to stay "in-house." Garber offered a
"wish list" of attributes for the general management position,
those being a good manager of people and finances and has
technical expertise - "someone who has grown up in the
utilities" - someone who has an engineering degree or equivalent
in experience. "You cannot tell that from a resume," he said.
"I think Shannon has good experience."
While Garber noted Littleton does not have the technical and
field experience, he has shown people and managerial
skills. Reviewing the applicants, committee member Tony Aikens
said while the applicant from Kentucky, Brewer, "seems like a
nice guy," Aikens noted his concern handling a larger utility
company would be too much "over his head." He noted Brewer is
dealing with 4,000 customers while LCUB has 60,000. "We're
running a $90 million facility," he said. "We have a person
in-house, who was named assistant manager six years ago to do
that job, if necessary, and I believe we should promote within
when possible and when qualified. "I think he (Littleton) gave
very good answers and is qualified," Aikens added.
Committee member Gene Hamby and Douglas "Buddy" Hines echoed
Aikens' preference of Littleton as first choice. "With the
problems we've got facing us right now, we don't need a new man
in here," Hines said. "I would go with Shannon 100 percent." "I
feel like Buddy, I think it's the wrong time for a major
change," Hamby said. "We've just got too many important things
going on. I think Shannon has a wide variety of experience that
only time has given him. He would be my choice."
Committee member Bobby Johnson Sr. agreed while Brewer had a
good interview, Johnson was also concerned with the applicants
being able to handle a larger utility. He also approved of
Littleton, as did Garber and committee member Eddie Simpson.