Thursday, October 26, 2005
hires two department heads
By SUE WATSON
John Collins, who is taking the helm as general manager at the Holly Springs Utility Department in November, brings 33 years of utility experience to HSUD, a rapidly expanding distributor of electricity, gas, water and sewer at a critical growth period in the city and county.
After being out of the utility business for one year, Collins said he is eager to get back into the business he loves and knows best.
“I am very excited about coming to Holly Springs and being a part of the community,” he said in an interview last week. “I’ve been out of the power company operations and love the general work and people associated with power companies.”
Collins retired with Memphis Light Gas & Water in 2005, after serving as manager of electric distribution and the distribution support department.
His duties there included managing construction contracts, line clearance, and around-the-clock shift maintenance for electric, gas and water.
Collins has a track record of handling large emergency power outage problems. The worst outage MLG&W experienced during his tenure there was the July 22, 2003, wind storm which did more damage to the system than the ice storm of 1994, he said.
He was in charge of getting volunteer forces to come to Memphis and help repair the downed lines and poles.
“We almost had to rebuild our system. The wind storm came through really without notice and went primarily through the center of the city. It took out most of our overhead lines and required a force of 1,000 extra workers in addition to our staff of between 400 and 500 people to restore power.”
The majority of customers had power restored within two weeks.
Collins said MLG&W had learned a lot from the ice storm of 1994, which was bad.
“It’s a key to learn from each event so you handle the next one a lot better,” he said.
Collins, who will be leaving a new house in Arlington, Tenn., after only one year to come to Holly Springs, is in a way coming home to his roots. While a youngster, he spent summers with relatives in Slayden and looks forward to living in beautiful Marshall County.
He is married to his wife of 34 years, Sheila. They have a daughter, Kim Culver, and son-in-law, Donnie, who gave them one grandchild, Carson.
“Carson is my pride and joy; what he wants I do,” Collins said.
Kim is a diagnostic radiation stenographer working with a radiology group serving a number of providers, including Baptist DeSoto.
Son Brad is a senior at Mississippi State University, majoring in finance and marketing.
One of the Collins’ daughters was killed in an automobile accident in 1991.
Collins’ mother, Velma Langston, lives in Hernando. His father is deceased.
Some family members people may recognize include his aunt Virginia Valentine and her five children, Dede Skelton, Danny Valentine, Cindy Farese, Sherry Hughes and Johnny Valentine, relatives he spent summertime with in the Marshall and Benton County area.
“So, I’m a little bit familiar with the area,” Collins said.
He was born in Memphis, graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in business management, and is a retired veteran with the Tennessee Air National Guard with 22 years of service.
Collins said he looks forward to moving from a big city utility system to a more rural setting.
“I’m am excited about coming and really looking forward to this,” he said. “I’m ready to get there – ready to get started.”
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