Local News

LP picks successor to utility director

The town has selected Joseph Barber, of Lake Placid, to become its new utility director when Gary Freeman retires in November.

At Monday’s town council meeting, Town Administrator Phil Williams said there will be a transition period where Barber will be learning the job.

It was noted that Barber will be required to acquire and maintain a Class C Florida Water license and a Class C Florida Wastewater license. Councilman Ray Royce asked if Williams and Mayor John Holbrook were confident that Barber would receive the needed training to pass the licensing tests in three or four months.

Barber responded that taking the test does not worry him.

“I am glad Gary will be here for the next six months or so, so I can learn the physical operations and a lot of the budgeting processes that go on,” he said. “The test was the least of my worries. As long as you can provide me with study material, I can pass the test. I think I have proven that time after time.”

Until he retires on Nov. 28, Freeman said Barber will be working as an assistant or deputy utility director.

Does Barber’s work history qualify him for the position of town utility director?

Freeman said he and the other members of the utility director search committee believe Barber is qualified for the position.

“We went through quite a few applicants and he is the most qualified as far as the town wants to proceed,” he said. Barber has a master’s degree in engineering.

Barber’s resume shows that since 2011 to the present he has been working as a sales and operations planning manager at Delray Plants, Venus.

From 2007-2011 he was a project engineer for Morris-Depew Associates, Inc., Fort Myers, where he was responsible for all aspects of site design and permitting of land development projects.

Freeman said when Barber worked for the Fort Myers engineering firm he did design work for water distribution lines for different utility companies.

Responding to a town employment questionnaire, Barber stated he served as the engineer for a water control district, which is governed similar to the Town of Lake Placid.

“Through my education, I have learned the basics of water and wastewater treatment, which would allow me to be quickly trained on the town’s system,” he stated.

Barber will start working for the town on May 26.

His employment contract shows he will be paid $72,500 annually.


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