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Water chief Parrott takes demotion

Rapson: County making progress fixing failures cited by EPD

Long-time Fayette County Water System Director Tony Parrott has been demoted to the position of water treatment plant operator, county officials said in a news release Monday afternoon.

County Administrator Steve Rapson cited “inadequate performance of responsibilities as the water system director” in Parrott’s demotion letter, dated Sept. 9.

Rapson told The Citizen that Parrott was not moving quickly enough on items outlined in a performance improvement plan that was issued last month.

That improvement plan, along with a two-week suspension without pay, was part of discipline meted to Parrott in the wake of the taste and odor problems that lasted for several weeks in May and early June, and also a series of problems in July that led to the temporary closing of the county’s two water treatment plants in the same week.

The demotion is a significant hit to Parrott’s salary, which will drop from $118,444 a year to $56,467 a year.

Parrott also has been placed on a 90-day probationary period and the demotion is contingent upon him becoming certified as a Class I water treatment plant operator.

Rapson said he is aware that the public is interested in the viability of the water system.

“We are taking very aggressive steps in responding to this as quickly as we can,” Rapson said. “This is all about instilling a sense of confidence in our water system as well as Fayette County government, and we are trying to be as transparent as we can and as open as we can.”

The water system and Parrott have come under fire following a sanitary survey conducted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division in June which listed 10 violations of Georgia’s safe drinking water rules and another 141 deficiencies in the system including equipment that needed to be repaired or replaced at both of the county’s water treatment plants.

EPD’s probe came following the weeks-long taste and odor problems experienced by water customers, which inconvenienced residents and forced restaurants to hand out bottled water in lieu of tap water.

Parrott ultimately admitted that he guessed at the cause of the foul water, which EPD later blamed on operations at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant.

EPD has also recommended that Parrott and four other water system employees be investigated as to whether they “may have practiced fraud or deception,” or instead are “incompetent or unable to perform their duties properly.”

Rapson said he met last week with EPD officials about the violations and deficiencies on the sanitary survey, and that EPD agreed to push back the deadline for the county’s formal response to the sanitary survey findings from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12.

Following the EPD meeting, Rapson said he had a “detailed conversation” with Parrott Friday that led to the demotion decision Monday.

EPD since has been notified of Parrott’s demotion, Rapson said.

Rapson said the county has already addressed 25 percent of the deficiencies listed in the sanitary survey.

The county is on track to have 72 percent of the deficiencies corrected in three months and 81 percent will be corrected in six months, Rapson noted.

In Parrott’s absence, Rapson said the water system is technically under his direct supervision, though plant managers Bill Stevens and Tom Henninger are overseeing day-to-day operations and will consult him for anything they need.

The county is also working to pick a new third-party “engineer of record” for the water system and will be interviewing finalists Thursday and Friday. Rapson said. The plan is to have a recommendation for the county commission to consider at its Sept. 26 meeting.

“That engineer of record will oversee water system operations until we get a director,” Rapson said, adding that he hoped to post the vacant director’s position by the end of this week.

Rapson noted that the county would be filling one of two vacant water treatment plant operator positions with Parrott. The county employs 16 water plant operators with two on duty per 12-hour shift who report to the Operator Responsible in Charge (ORC) at each water treatment plant.

As a water treatment plant operator, Parrott will have no supervisory oversight or responsibility, Rapson said.

Parrott is 60 and while he is already eligible for benefits from the county’s retirement plan, he wishes to work another 10 years, Rapson said.

“With a 52.3 percent reduction in his salary, nobody can say I am giving him a pass,” Rapson added.



tortugaocho's picture

Only in America---- can you thoroughly screw up and get medical benefits, dental and $5 grand a month. Wow. Rapson--- tell you what--- you convinced me---now convince yourself. The State EPD (one of the least active environmental agencies in the country) actually wrote a report saying that this gentlemen's performance was at best incompetence and at worst fraud. This gives me absolutely no faith in Fayette County and leaves me completely untrustworthy of drinking that water.

Unfortunately, depending on what the report says you may not want to shower/bathe in it either. Many toxins (trihalomethanes) are much more problematical when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

I dont drink the water! antifreeze was found in the water in ptc at the airport. And parrot did nothing to notify anyone or follow any proceedures to keep it from spreading. I got copies of emails from parrot to prove it!

G35 Dude's picture

If this is true why haven't you given copies of those emails to The Citizen? Or gone to the water board? Or the EPD?

I did and why do you think i was fired after 20 years! I did go over parrots head and to mr maxwell a comm. I am sick to death of nobody listen to me. Parrot and this county is crocked as hell! I have a lawsuit comming and we will all see! I care about people and there helth! And if anyone got strangly sick after 2007 contact poision controll because its prob the water!!!!

NUK_1's picture

...because you're semi-literate at best. Sorry, but you are your own worst enemy in some of these responses. If you are indeed suing, letting your lawyer(s) do the talking would be my suggestion.

rolling stone's picture

but it seems that exemployee has progressively dumbed down since the character's first appearance and is currently quite a ways into the unbelievable zone.

The antifreeze and about 6 other chems got in the water through backflow. There devices made that will not let any bad water backfow into the system and fayette co doesnt have one of them in the system! Look up backflow prevention on epd web site! Trust me fayette county is not close to running a good backflow program!

I got fired because i was trying to let the public know this was going on years ago! Employeed 20 years there. Wish they would really investigate orher issues like why the water system has had the same ingerneering co for more than twenty years!

You may have been a whiz at water treatment but if you didn't communicate verbally much better than you do in writing you were a less than satisfactory employee. And the Water System Director doesn't make decisions about contract awards--that belongs to the Board of Commissioners. Suck up those sour grapes and get on with life--you'll be just fine.

You must be attacking me because you are part of the problem yourself. Yes commissioners do aprove that but trust me parrot made sure they vot the job! And how do you know i was a sat employee? Doesnt matter what you think. I was better than that. Another one of parrots way of controlling his employees. You are right i will be just fine after my lawsuit! I am typing this from my little cell phone what is your excuse?

I can appreciate his desire to work until age 70, but...a red flag just went up, he was making $118k, doing little or nothing, was there a possibilty the job had other sources of revenue that are not taxable, so to speak. I am not accusing him but it did send up a flag. He could retire and work part time and make 56k. Just asking

Last week Rapson suspends the man 2 weeks, tells him to shape up and gives a list of improvements. If the suspension was immediate, then how can Rapson demote the guy for not completing the tasks quick enough?

Later in this article, Rapson then goes on to brag that

"Rapson said the county has already addressed 25 percent of the deficiencies listed in the sanitary survey."

"The county is on track to have 72 percent of the deficiencies corrected in three months and 81 percent will be corrected in six months, Rapson noted."

Is there something that I am missing here?

Can't wait to see Rapsons response to EPD. Mr. Munford, please get a copy of this.

I thought the same thing. By the way, have the 10 violations and 141 deficiencies ever been made public?

Some have been made public. Rapson has until 5 pm today to respond to the EPD. They begged for a couple days extension since this was due on the 9th. (45 days after the report). Guess Rapson needed the time since he went on vacation.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

That may require a written test and a passing grade. If he fails - he's gone with no recourse. Maybe that is Rapson's plan.

Aside from that, very little in this debacle makes any sense. When Rapson and the county attorney tire of their little game of hide the documents, we will learn more.

Live free or die!

Sounds more like weak leadership. They have every right to just fire him. Not sure if they feel sorry for him or just trying to milk him for more intell.

He will be on double secret probation for the next 10 years. He will never last since he will never have any team bond with his coworkers.

Starting to think the same. People are hiding something. Transparent, Nahh

Which is it Mr. Rapson:

Demote the guy because he is not moving fast enough

Then brag to the public that the county has already addressed 25 percent of the deficiencies listed in the sanitary survey and is on track to have 72 percent of the deficiencies corrected in three months and 81 percent will be corrected in six months.

If you want our confidence, you have to earn it. Talking out both sides of your mouth doesn't cut it.

abeautifulday4us's picture

EPA: "Managing Stormwater Runoff to Prevent Contamination of Drinking Water"

I don’t know Tony Parrot and I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I wouldn’t trust him to change the water filter in my home. Under his leadership, the EPD found 10 violations, 141 deficiencies and determined that Parrot and four other water system employees should be investigated as to whether they “may have practiced fraud or deception,” or instead are “incompetent or unable to perform their duties properly.”

Fortunately there is a chain of command in our county and someone will resolve this, right? I mean after all, our county administrator did say “This is all about instilling a sense of confidence in our water system as well as Fayette County government, and we are trying to be as transparent as we can and as open as we can.”

So can someone please explain to us how the guy responsible for these issues not only still has a job, but is still involved in our water as the plant operator? We obviously have lack in leadership at the Water System, but the weak actions by our county administrator prove the deficiencies don't stop there.

Not that this is much consolation, he is on probation for the next 4 months. The oversight of his actions will be tremendous. Probably will be followed to the men's room, that type of structure, if you get my drift.

There is information that this county needs that only this one control freak has. Allow this 4 months to play out. Come January, let's mark our calendars and be pounding the county administrator's door down for his action plan going forward. I was one of the first to have the filthy brown water coming out of my faucets. I will not forget this, nor will I let this ineptitude be swept aside. I hope others who had the stinky water and/or the brown water will do the same.

As I have said before on here, government does not work like the real world of business. I agree with what Mr. Rapson is doing. He has monumental issues to address. Not just with personnel at our water system, but with government oversight, equipment, contracts and new treatment options needed.

Then, the final explanation that will be needed to us water payors, how much is all this neglect going to cost me in the future? Everyone gets what you are saying, everyone. Stay on it, I intend to.

Milk the guy for all the information. But trust me, everything will end up floating to the top quicker if he is gone.

I expect the present splost will fail, and by the end of the year, all the costs to bring the water system up to snuff will result in FC needing a splost to take care of this.

I don't agree with the how this is being handled. Something this important should be handled harshly and swiftly without talking out both sides of ones mouth. You can't say we demoted him because he wasn't working fast enough, then brag about how much has been accomplished and how fast it will be remediated. That is just nonsense.

I want to see the EPD report along with the county's response. I would like to read and understand what issues may affect the decisions being made. This is not a simple personnel issue that can be hidden from the residents of the county.

No one is blaming this commission for this failure. This didn't happen over night. The failure was the water system management and its board. Commission must demand transparency, just like they promised. (Good and bad)

meeting minutes for Aug 28th are on the website now. I haven't read them all yet.

The first item of note is on the Sanitary Survey, "Mr. Rapson stated that he is trying to set up a meeting with EPD on Sept. 6th to review it prior to us releasing. At this point they have not agreed to meet with us as agreed upon earlier in the process. He said if he gets a response to his final email, he will email it to everybody."

I assume he means everyone on the committee.

I will print out and read later today

Still don't understand why they have to wait for the next meeting to approve the minutes. This can be done by the chairman one or two days after the meeting. Important deadlines had already passed. The Citizen already reported that the Rapson met with EPD official who let them slide to the 12th to report on the survey. The Agenda posted was not even relavent to the Sept 11th meeting. This is not the way to run a business and certainly not transparent. This is crap.

The entire meeting minutes are late, late, LATE. Someone needs to wake up here.

I can't wait to get a hold of the EPD report and county response.

Kind of astonished that neither the Chairman, Rapson or Brown took Parrott to task when he blamed the EPD for not advising him of missing the testing of lead and copper in Brooks for 3 years.

Waterline Contract Bid: Something is wrong when we only get 2 bidders on a contract valued at $700K. Times aren't that good yet to pass on something like this. Nothing against the winning bidder who has a positive history, but something isn't right.

I guess they addressed this in the Sanitary survey, but why is there not any discussion on:

Quality Control
Upcoming Projects
Lake Levels

All of these are important

Agree--glaring examples of poor writing or poor transcription or both. I can't figure out why a water committee is needed--if the Water System Director and the County Administrator are both capable and productive, they should be able to handle most problems and take those they can't to the Board of Commissioners.

There needs to be a full fledged investigation.

They just meet and supply half hearted minutes following ratification at the next meeting two weeks later. The agenda they posted for the Sept 11th meeting was the list of items they discussed Aug 28th. Can't believe stupid ole me is the only one to take offense to this.

Here is an opportune time for Rev. Barlow to set this dept straight, but he is obviously still smitten with the recently demoted former boss. Maybe when he puts his bible down at night he could actually read these so called minutes. If he he has one marble in his head he could see for himself how bad this whole dept is run.

We have these so called successful business men looking over a dept that went south right under their direction. Do these men write meeting minutes like this at their offices? How many have business interests involved with the county? How come no one on commission has the guts to call these overseers to the table?

It's a shame these guys want the responsibility of making decisions as commissioners, but as soon as the fire gets hot, they have no opinion.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Test out the "Parrot is a good guy idea" by putting it out there before Brownie had to decide. The rest we know. Freakin' idiot. Let's dump him for the NAACP commissioner. BTW, who will that be?

Live free or die!

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Test out the "Parrot is a good guy idea" by putting it out there before Brownie had to decide. The rest we know. Freakin' idiot. Let's dump him for the NAACP commissioner. BTW, who will that be?

Live free or die!

Don't know where the confidence comes from.

'twas my pleasure.

Our US Congress has 5 working days to get the budget finished.

Obama and staff are refusing to negotiate with Boehner on it.

The White House has told Boehner it is his baby, get it done.

Boehner has a split Congress that will not compromise with itself.

I just got a robocall from area code 202 (DC) telling me to push option 1 to get a message to Westmoreland to refuse to compromise on no funding for Obamacare.

The White House has said Obamacare is nonnegotiable.

I am going to negotiate a cold beverage or 4 to watch the Braves clinch their division, hopefully by Sunday at Turner Field.

The Red Sox next, sometime this coming week. (the logical World Series opponent for the Braves this year..Boston Strong, Boston Braves, you get the connections here)

Matty Ice will come up with a win on Sunday.

Just forget about Friday the 13th.

Cooler, drier air is coming in as we blog.

Cheers everyone.

I do not know if we had this problem but check out this link, it could very well be PTC

Been There's picture

This article states: "Parrott also has been placed on a 90-day probationary period and the demotion is contingent upon him becoming certified as a Class I water treatment plant operator."

Is there something deceptive in the above statement? According to the Secretary of State Website License Verification page Tony is ALREADY a certified Class I Operator as well as a certified Class III Wastewater Operator and a certified Lab Analyst. All 3 licenses are valid thru June 2015.

As far as I know, if someone is already licensed they cannot re-take the certification test so something other than the water smells fishy.

Not sure if Rapson can be trusted to tell the truth. He seems good at talking from both sides.

I tried to ignore others, but I'm learning every day why he has the nickname "Mr Smoke and Mirrors"

mudcat's picture

You are the type of truth sayer that old school pols like Rapson are fearful of. Not that they would be fearful of ending a sentence with a preposition, like of. But I am getting off track here.

They hate that you can look up stuff that they said or lied about or ignored or didn't research-- and that you can do it instantly. Bad for the old school business as usual model.

Rapson is playing a game. Only question is whether it is a game on Tony to force him to resign or whether it is a game on us under which he protects Tony for some unknown reason.

PTC Observer's picture

I guess you can call him whatever you want, he can take his certification to the bank I suppose but he won't make anymore than he's making.

My real concern is that he's still employed, "guarding" our water quality.

Dissatisfied employee not caring enough to do their best?
Or perhaps worse, like I will get back at them?

PTC Observer's picture

Exactly, in private enterprise you would never, never do this. It's crazy.

On the new water director.

I can see the interview now with Rapson.

Rapson, do you have any questions.

Interview 1, yes, do I have to include Parrott on my payroll?

Rapson, yes, I promised the twit a job.

Interview 1, thank you for your time, if I don't control the dept, it's no use going forward. I don't need a bad apple undermining my authority, nor me having to watch over his shoulder. Good day sir.

Rapson, please wait. I know I'm a ninny, but I need someone strong who knows water. Don't make me have to meet with Barlow again.

Interview 1, how about an extra 10 grand for me, and an extra line item for my budget?

Rapson, sure, we can raid the storm water budget. We have a deal?

I tried to tell him that but he clearly didn'tget the message--NO WONDER!

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