Lakehaven Utility District hires next general manager

During a Jan. 6 special meeting, the board unanimously voted to make Lakehaven
During a Jan. 6 special meeting, the board unanimously voted to make Lakehaven's engineering/water manager John Bowman the new general manager.
— image credit: Courtesy image

Lakehaven Utility District, the city's water and sewer utility service, will employ a new general manager in May.

At a Dec. 9 Lakehaven meeting, General Manager Donald Perry formally notified the utility's board of directors that he will retire at the end of April. During a Jan. 6 special meeting, the board unanimously voted to make Lakehaven's engineering/water manager John Bowman the new general manager. Bowman accepted the board's offer and is slated to begin his new role May 1. The promotion was motioned for by commissioner Charles Gibson and seconded by commissioner Tim McClain.

Perry, 65, said he plans to enjoy some spare time and visit friends and family in his retirement. Perry has worked in the water business for more than four decades and has been with Lakehaven for nearly 14 years.

"There's been very few moments I haven't enjoyed it," he said.

Perry informally told the board roughly five years ago that he planned to retire soon. Last year, he made the board aware that he would vacate his position in 2011. December's announcement formalized the decision.

Bowman is a splendid choice as the utility's next general manager, Perry said. An outside candidate was not sought because Bowman was considered a good fit for the position, Lakehaven General Counsel Steve Pritchett said. For the past decade, Bowman has filled in as the acting general manager whenever Perry has been away.

"He would be the person and has been the person I've recommended for the better part of five years," Perry said.

Bowman has been with the utility district for 21 years. He started with Lakehaven as an engineer, moved up to water operations manager and has been the engineering/water manager for four years. Bowman grew up in Federal Way and lives just blocks from the utility's facility on 1st Avenue South.

"That's one of the things that I think (the board) appreciated and looked for," Bowman said.

Bowman already knows many of the individuals involved in the utility and the city's other government agencies, Perry said. He's familiar with Federal Way as well as Lakehaven's needs and challenges. The board's familiarity with Bowman is another benefit, Pritchett said.

"Being the head of the water and engineering department gave him a broad view of what the challenges are," Perry said.

Bowman said he is excited to begin in his new position and appreciates the board's confidence in him. One of the upcoming challenges he anticipates is continued work on a filtration system for the Green River, used as the city's water supply.

Though Bowman has been selected to replace Perry, there are still details the board of directors must work out. The board will further discuss a more definite idea of what on-the-job training will be needed prior to Perry's departure. The board will also talk about a job description and Bowman's salary. Perry said a GM job description was drawn up 18 months ago, but the board could change it.

Bowman said he anticipates discussion on if and when his current position will be filled once he's moved up. The utility will, for at least a short time, probably operate without filling the managerial spot, which costs approximately $121,000 with benefits, Bowman said.

"It's doable and it's prudent at this time when the economy is struggling and development is down," he said.

Job description and salary talks are expected in February or March, Pritchett said.

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