"And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward," Matthew 10:42
Broad River Water Authority might have had the "hand of God" on its inception, according to General Manager Maria Hunnicutt.
"I hate to say hand of God, but it was surely the right people at the right time in the right place with the right resources," Hunnicutt said of the soon to be 20-year-old treatment and distribution system that provides 50,000 homes and businesses with those Biblical cups of cold water.
The 14-year veteran manager and administrative staff recently moved into the authority's new home on Main Street Rutherfordton to enhance customer convenience and community involvement.
"Customer service, environmental quality of life, and economic development are the three pillars of this organization," Hunnicutt said. The new office will enhance all three.
One example of how the higher profile office works came at last year's Mayfest in Rutherfordton when they set up a water meter and showed passersby how to read it and know if they had a problem.
"We've also worked with teachers and Chris Burley let me work with his Cub Scout troop to demonstrate filtration by using coffee filters," Hunnicutt said.
She also bemoaned the fact that, "Most people just think you open the spigot. And that's it."
It is so much more.
She had high praise for the employees and board who make the whole shebang work.
Maintenance workers, for instance, "Get out in the heat and the cold and the wet and the mud," to make repairs and rehab pipes, many of which have been in the ground for a long, long time.
"Many of them are well-paid, but there is a problem throughout the industry that our workforce is aging out and retiring. We need young people thinking about water treatment as a career," Hunnicutt said.
The authority serves a far-flung area including Spindale, Ruth, Rutherfordton, and Cliffside, but also Polk County and Inman-Campobella. BRWA takes about six million gallons of water out of the 130 million that flow through the Board River.
That's a lot of cups of that Biblical cold water.
A low point came during the drought of 2007, but "even then we were only taking out three million gallons of a daily flow that got down to 20 million gallons a day."
The BRWA calls the Broad River, "One of the cleanest rivers in North Carolina."
Hunnicutt gave high marks to all of the authority's employees but had a special work of thanks for Jennifer Goossens who serves as Business and Finance Admin Manager.
"She has saved my life this year," Hunnicutt said. Goosens works in human resources, finance, accounting. "We are under a whole new accounting system this year." She also helps with employee training programs and dealt directly with the renovation of the new building which was done by Maple Leaf Design and Build, a local company run by Bernie Dilgert. Interior look came from Artifacturing, a local interior design company run by Jenna Bailey.
Employees of the authority include: Water Treatment Plant - Brad Joyner, Sam Molinas, Ricky Ingle, Roger Brunton, Robert Blecher, Dustin Guyer and Shannon Suttle. The distribution crew includes: Reid Hammett, Dustin Jone, Dakota Turner, Tony Sullivan, Gladden Hill, Tanner Thomas and Tyler Smith. And the administrative staff is: Hunnicutt, Goossens, Amy Jones, Cathy Moore, Christy Heavner and Kathryn Banfield.
The board, which Hunnicutt praised for its foresight in rehabbing the system and spending the money to keep it current and running includes the chair, Spindale Mayor Mickey Bland, vice chair and Rutherfordton town manager Doug Barrick, secretary and county public works and planning director Danny Searcy, treasurer Rob Bole, Ruth Mayor David Guy, Steve Garrison and Jamie Yelton.
The authority's website is brwa.net.