Jones tapped to head Garden City water department
By SCOTT AUST
Lakin City Administrator Fred Jones has accepted a position with the city of Garden City as water systems resource manager.
Jones, who has been Lakin's administrator for more than seven years, will start his new job on Nov. 4. Before that, Jones was economic development director in Logan County and also worked in law enforcement in Oakley.
"I've been doing a lot of that (working on water issues) over here in Lakin, so I thought it would be good opportunity to get more experience in that field. I think Garden City has a lot of stuff going on over there as a bigger community with a larger utility," Jones said. "I was looking for a change, but I wasn't actively looking for anything. This opportunity came up and I looked into it."
Mike Muirhead, public utilities director, said Jones will be a valuable member of the city's workforce.
"With water quality and quantity issues becoming more and more prevalent in southwest Kansas, Fred brings broad experience in water utility management and operations," Muirhead said. "He will be a great asset not only to Garden City, but to the entire region."
While in Lakin, Jones oversaw the many day-to-day operations of the city, as well as financing, permitting, development, and the construction of Lakin's new reverse osmosis water treatment plant that was recently completed and will soon come on line.
"I've had a unique opportunity to address water quality issues in Lakin," Jones said. "I am excited to build on my experience to help the city provide the best value, service, and quality possible for the customers of the water utility."
As Water Resource Systems Manager, Jones will be responsible for efficient and effective water resource planning, water quality monitoring, water conservation and education programs, and regulatory reporting.
Matt Allen, city manager, said the position is a re-title of the water superintendent position. Jones will head the city's water department. The city was looking for someone who could focus both on operating a utility while also being able to work on the water policy side of things.
"It was really aimed more to recruit folks who in addition to having experience with a water utility, could also lead a regional discussion on water quality and water quantity issues," Allen said.
With experience in Lakin — the same river and water basin as Garden City — Jones offered a good fit for the position, according to Allen.
"Literally, the issues that hit them are coming downriver toward us," he said. "That's part of the appeal, also his experience with water infrastructure projects, familiarity with state contacts, and he's a good administrator."