Flowers: ‘It’s time to step away’

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 27, 2014

James Gordon Flowers, general manager of the City of Troy Utilities Department, will be honored with a retirement reception from 2 until 4 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

James Gordon Flowers, general manager of the City of Troy Utilities Department, will be honored with a retirement reception from 2 until 4 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The City of Troy will host a retirement reception for James Gordon Flowers, general manager of the City’s Utility Department, from 2 until 4 p.m. at City Hall Tuesday. The public is invited to join the City in wishing Flowers all the best in his retirement years.

After 26 years with the City, Flowers is turning in the key to his office and entering a new phase of his life.

Flowers said, after working with so many wonderful people, his last official day at Troy City Hall will be tinged with some sadness but he is looking forward to retirement.

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“It’s time,” Flowers said. “After all these years, it’s time to step away and spend more time with my family and do some of the things that I haven’t had time to do. I’m going to miss the people but I’m going to look forward.”

Flowers began his career with the City of Troy in 1988 as the building official. He was made general manager of the utilities department in 1992.

For Flowers, it’s hard to remember when he wasn’t in the “electric business.”

His dad, Young Flowers, was an electrical contractor and Flowers was only 19 years old when circumstances placed him in a “management” position. As general manager of the City’s utility department, Flowers’ responsibility included all the utilities – electric, water and sewer.

“There has been a lot to learn and there have been a lot of changes,” he said and, laughingly, remembered the days when linemen climbed wood poles with spikes on their boots.

“Now we have steel poles and bucket trucks. When I started we had about 4,500 customer accounts in the utilities department. Now, we have 8,000. Back then, the utilities revenue was about $10 million, now its $40 million. There’s been a lot to do and a lot to learn. But, I’ve enjoyed every day I’ve worked for the City and I will miss the job and the people.”

Flowers highlighted some of the events during the 22 years he has served the City as general manager of the utilities department.

“It’s been a busy and a lot of changes, positive changes, have been made,” Flowers said. “There have been several building projects – the Industrial Park Substation and the substation on the Elba Highway and, in phase two, the Park Street Substation and the department built a new transmission line.”

Under Flowers’ leadership, two wells were built, number eight on Barron Road and number nine at the Troy Sportsplex.

“We doubled the capacity of wells number four on Franklin Street and well number six at the Industrial Park,” he said. “In 1994, there was the major expansion of the Walnut Creek Treatment Plant. That was big and, then, the 1.5 million gallon water tank on Highway 231 was built.”

Flowers said the installation of the roadway lighting on U.S. 231 by-pass was a project that greatly improved night travel on that stretch of busy highway.

In 1995, Flowers managed the reconstruction after Hurricane Opal.

About two years ago, the City converted its power supplier from Alabama Power to Constellation at a considerable savings to the City.

The change in the management structure of the utilities department was a positive move and the fact that the utilities department has been able to transfer about $100 million to the City’s general fund is something the department can take pride in, Flowers said.

With all that said, Flowers 26 years with the City of Troy has been well spent and his retirement is deserved.

“I’m looking forward to just taking some time off,” he said. “I want to spend some time at the beach. Rhonda and I have five and a half grandchildren and I want to spend time with them. And, I do a little photography and I want to devote more time to that. We might travel a little but I’ll probably spend most of the time around home.”