Hamilton retires after 45 years

Chillicothe News

After 45 years of service to Chillicothe Municipal Utilities (CMU) Randy Hamilton has retired.

Hamilton started working for CMU after graduating from Wheeling High School in 1976. In his early years, he worked as a water plant operator, working the swing shift. He obtained his “D” Water Certification in May of 1978 and his “C” Water Certification in November of 1978. In 1980, he transferred to the wastewater collection crew, where he repaired and maintained sewer mains. In 1985, he transferred back to the water treatment plant where he became the Maintenance/Water Plant Operator and performed maintenance for the water treatment plant and the wastewater treatment plant. In 1989, Hamilton was promoted to the Chief Plant Operator, where he supervised daily operation of the water treatment plant. In 1993, he became the Water System Superintendent when Gene Bennett retired, then in 1997, the new construction crew was formed under the supervision of the Water Systems Superintendent, who relocated and replaced several water mains and sewer mains and completed many projects. The water department maintains around 90 miles of water mains, maintains around 4,000 water meters and repairs and maintains over 600 fire hydrants.

Randy Hamilton poses in front of the water plant on Water Works Road, where he worked for 45 years.

Hamilton has witnessed many changes during his time at CMU. When he first began, the Chillicothe Municipal Utilities pumped water from the Grand River which was the main water source and used three wells for backup. Water was pumped from the river to the settling basins which were located west of the power plant. After the water had settled, it was fed to the water plant where it was treated before being pumped to consumers. All operational procedures and calculations were done manually.

In the late 1970s, CMU went to groundwater only using the three wells that were drilled in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Surface water was very difficult to treat because of river level fluctuation and constant temperature changes. In 1989, the first plant expansion occurred which added on to the original plant and the capacity of the plant went from 2 million gallons per day to 4.5 million gallons per day.

According to a press release from CMU, Hamilton has been part of many projects that have improved CMU’s water system. He has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, engineers and construction managers to ensure projects are done correctly. The city has experienced growth in new housing developments, businesses, and the installation of several new water mains.

Some of the accomplished that have occurred during his leadership include:  construction of a 1-million-gallon water tower in 1998; a 12” water main loop that encompassed the city limits of Chillicothe connecting all three water towers together for better pressure and fire protection completed in late 1990s; well #4 was placed in service in 1993; constructing the detention basin for the wastewater treatment plant; a second plant expansion that added liquid carbon dioxide, new chlorination system and building with chlorine scrubber, lime sludge holding basin and a second lime slaker that was completed in 2002; well #5 was placed in service in 2005 along with an 18” transmission main to the water treatment plant; implementation of a GIS mapping system that digitally mapped the water hydrants and valves in 2006; (Prior to GIS, the lines were recorded manually and based largely on the knowledge of individuals who had been involved with the system for many years) installation of the new water main to the women’s prison; new water meters were installed with automated meter readings in 2008; equipment was purchased to haul and land apply lime sludge in 2011; well #6 was placed in service in 2014; in 2019 the new SCADA system, a computer system that allowed remote control of operation of the wells, high service pumps, water towers and water plant equipment.

Some of the most significant changes in the last 45 years was the transition from the analog system to the digital world, along with new water testing procedures and especially the bacteriological testing. Years ago, it could take up to seven days to confirm a positive bacteriological sample now it only takes 24 hours.

Hamilton has been a part of many committees and has attended numerous meetings and trainings to stay current on all aspects of reporting, certifications and regulations. Chillicothe Municipal Utilities has a state-certified laboratory for bacteriological testing which is regulated by the Department of Health. Randy has always received excellent evaluations from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and also excellent laboratory evaluation and reporting from the Missouri Department of Health.

The water treatment plant received a certificate of appreciation for outstanding service and dedication to sustain and maintain the integrity of the community’s water/wastewater system during the flood of 1993 from the Missouri Water and Wastewater Conference.

Hamilton said he has enjoyed his time at the water plant and the people he has worked with. Being involved in all aspects of the water system has been very rewarding. He has worked with more than 65 people throughout his career in the water department.

During his nearly 45 years with CMU, he has worked with four general managers: Keith Beardmore, Ray Blakely, Steve Svec and Jim Gillilan; two Water and Wastewater Superintendents: Dale Phillips and Bill Cole; and one Water Superintendent: Gene Bennett. Hamilton would like to thank the present and past board members for all of their support over the past 45 years.

Hamilton and his wife, Ann have been married for 27 years. They have four children: Kristina Hamilton of Olathe, Kan.; Katlyn Hamilton of Chillicothe; Natalie and husband Rocky York of Chula, and Nathan Hamilton and wife Jessica of Chula; and four grandchildren Hunter and Hailey Hamilton and Rocklyn and Keanan York all of Chula.

Hamilton looks forward to retirement and plans on traveling with his wife, spending time with his family, fishing, camping, and hunting.