By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Monday was the first day since last falls Darby Fire that Utica Power Authority did not have its general manager, Vern Pyle, on the job all day. But two engineers made sure the rebuilding of UPAs three-quarter mile flume continued right on schedule.
The water and power agency, whose flume system was decimated by Darby flames, could not get an extension of Pyles leave of absence from Preston Youth Facility in Ione.
Pyle is a full-time electrician at Preston. Until the fire, he had been overseeing UPAs operation during evenings and weekends. He plans to return to that part-time management schedule now that he has used up all of his Preston vacation time and has reached the end of his six-month leave of absence.
I honestly think we can work it out, he said. This is another hurdle in the project, but its no different from the schedule I had before the fire. Linda (Anderson) takes care of all administrative tasks. Its going to be rough for a while but it can be accomplished.
At a special board meeting Friday night, UPA directors discussed how to continue rebuilding the three-quarter mile flume without Pyles daily presence. They voted to hire Carlton Engineering Inc. as construction managers to work under Pyles direction to complete the flume and get water flowing in the rebuilt system by mid-May.
At the meeting, Debbie Ponte, board chairwoman, asked for assurance that Pyles three areas of responsibility internal operations administration, the overland pumping system, and completing the rebuilding of the flume system would be taken care of.
Pyle reassured the board, saying the pumping system was well in hand, and the two engineers who would oversee the flume restoration project have been working with him from the start.
John Kessler is great with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other regulatory agencies, he said. And Dave (Jermstad) knows all aspects of the project.
Kessler said he would be in daily contact with Pyle as the flume restoration continued to completion.