Oxford names water treatment plant for mayor
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Feb 19, 2014 | 7350 views |  0 comments | 91 91 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Oxford Water Department General Manager Wayne Livingston speaks during the grand opening of the new Leon Smith Water Treatment Plant behind the Oxford Exchange. Beside Livingston is Mayor Leon Smith.
Oxford Water Department General Manager Wayne Livingston speaks during the grand opening of the new Leon Smith Water Treatment Plant behind the Oxford Exchange. Beside Livingston is Mayor Leon Smith.
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OXFORD — It does not matter to Mayor Leon Smith if other officials rename city buildings and roads after him.

But if they have to do it, he prefers they do so while he's still alive.

"It doesn't make any difference to me ... but I'm not crazy about getting things after I'm dead," Smith said with a chuckle. "If you're going to give me some flowers, give me some while I'm alive."

Smith, along with other Oxford officials and employees, were present Wednesday for the official naming of the Leon Smith Water Treatment Plant. The approximately $7 million facility was activated in January 2013 behind the Home Depot at the Oxford Exchange.

The treatment plant is the second project in Oxford to bear Smith's name. The Oxford City Council renamed the road leading to the Oxford Exchange as Leon Smith Parkway several years ago.

Councilman Mike Henderson said it is a little unusual for a sitting mayor to have not one but two projects named after him, particularly when such honors are usually bestowed upon individuals who donate lots of money to organizations or upon noteworthy deceased residents. However, Smith is not the typical mayor, having held the position for nearly 30 years, Henderson said.

"The city has experienced a major growth period under him," Henderson said. "He’s been a long-term mayor and he had a lot to do with getting those projects."

Wayne Livingston, general manager for the Oxford Water Works and Sewer Board, said the board recently decided to name the plant after Smith due to his many years of support of the board.

"We put the mayor's name on our sign because he's the one who got the water works started for us," Livingston said. "Twenty-five years ago, the mayor had enough foresight to know that we'd need more water and sewer in the future and we'd want to control it ... that's why we have the system we have now ... why we buy no water from anybody else."

Before the construction of the treatment plant, which draws water from a nearby lake, the city relied solely on well water, Livingston said.

Livingston said Oxford does not currently need the facility and the 3 million gallons of water it pumps each day, but will need it as the city continues to grow. The facility is capable of pumping 6 million gallons of water per day.

"If you don't have water and sewer, you can't grow," Livingston said.

Rodney Owens, assistant general manager for the Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board, said his agency has also planned for water use growth in the past. Owens said the board constructed the Earl C. Knowlton Water Treatment Plant by the Hillabee Reservoir in 1982 as a secondary water source to meet expected future demand at the time.

"It's very important, most all utilities do that, including us," Owens said. "Just about every public utility around does what we're trying to do here — stay ahead in terms of demand and backup sources."

Staff Writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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