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"Jonesboro realized the necessity of owning the water and light plant in conjunction with the new sewer system. "

"Mr. Christy played an integral part in the creation of City Water and Light. "

In 1903 J. F. Christy came to Jonesboro and worked to consolidate the privately owned and separate water and light plants. He spent two years in this work. About that same time Jonesboro realized the necessity of owning the water and light plant in conjunction with the new sewer system. Citizens of Jonesboro persuaded the owners of the privately owned water and light plants to sell their interest in these plants. In accordance with an act passed by the legislature, three improvement districts were authorized - one each for water, electric and sewer to be formed in Jonesboro. Three commissioners were appointed to the district. They in turn purchased the water and light plant, issued bonds and contracted for the construction of the sewer system and looked after all other interests of the district. The water and light plant was turned over to the commissioners on July 1, 1906, with Mr. Christy being retained as CWL's first manager.

Mr. Christy played an integral part in the creation of City Water and Light. He devoted countless hours working hand in hand with commissioners and others in the community to bring about the reality of a public utility system in Jonesboro. Mr. Christy remained as manager of the plant until his retirement in 1930.

In 1930, Lloyd M. Rebsamen was named to fill the post after Mr. Christy's retirement. Mr. Rebsamen held a mechanical engineering degree and started to work on construction crews for the new power plant. During his fourteen years with the utility, the power plant was expanded and a new powerhouse was constructed at Main St. and Johnson Ave. to house the three boilers and two turbines that provided a combined capacity of 4,500 kilowatts.

"Through Mr. Thayer's leadership, the utility expanded with the addition of water treatment stations, power plant expansions, and electric substation construction."

In 1944, Lloyd Rebsamen retired to enter private business and Neal Thayer, also an engineer, was hired as manager. Through Mr. Thayer's leadership, the utility expanded with the addition of water treatment stations, power plant expansions, and electric substation construction. In 1960, a new wastewater treatment plant was constructed in Jonesboro.

"CWL constructed a 161,000-volt line to Water Valley near Pocahontas. "

In 1961, CWL constructed a 161,000-volt line to Water Valley near Pocahontas, which is approximately 38 miles from Jonesboro, and made a tie to the Southwestern Power Administration system. This line was constructed at a cost of approximately one million dollars. The cost to purchase energy from Southwestern Power Administration was approximately the same cost to generate the electricity locally in Jonesboro. The foresight of the leadership benefited the rate payers with many millions of dollars of savings due to this connection and by purchasing the energy produced by the hydrogeneration.

"Marion Ulmer who had served as assistant manager became the new manager of CWL."

In 1970, at Mr. Thayer's retirement, Marion Ulmer who had served as assistant manager became the new manager of CWL. He served in the position of manager until 1984. During Mr. Ulmer's tenure as manager, CWL purchased five percent (5%) ownership in two coal fired electric generating plants located at White Bluff and Newark. This, along with expansions to the CWL system, led to CWL having the capacity to serve the needs of a growing city. The Race Street water treatment plant was installed in 1970.

The management and board of directors of CWL sold 70 million dollars of bonds to purchase five percent (5%) in the Independence and White Bluff Coal Plants to be able to maintain competitive rates with this low cost coal generated energy.

In 1984 after Marion Ulmer's retirement, James A. Reed, an electrical engineer was promoted to Manager.

"A new wastewater treatment plant was placed in service in the fall of 1987. "

The CWL Board of Directors authorized the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant in southeast Jonesboro that was funded entirely by reserve funds of CWL's and placed in service in the fall of 1987. The plant cost was approximately $7.2 million. This plant was increased by 50% in 1996 and a $7 million addition was completed in early 1998. This efficient and capable plant was instrumental in luring many food processors to Jonesboro. The new aesthetically pleasing Medallion water treatment station was constructed in 1987.

In 1989, a major annexation to Jonesboro occurred and approximately 3,600 new electric customers were acquired from Craighead Electric Cooperative Corporation.

"City Water and Light has added approximately 500 fire hydrants to the system in these new city areas to improve fire protection and to increase the flow capability. "

On January 1, 1990, CWL and Valley View Water Association merged resources to better utilize the water systems located in the newly annexed area. Since the merging of the two systems, CWL has added approximately 500 fire hydrants to the system in these new city areas to improve fire protection and to increase the flow capability to these areas. In July of 1990, CWL purchased approximately 1,800 water customers from the Shady Park system located along the north half of Jonesboro. This again was done to allow for the area in the city to be scheduled for increased fire flow capabilities as the city grows.

Major additions and renovations to the general office building were completed in 1992.

Upon Jim Reed's retirement, Ronald L. Bowen also an engineer was promoted to Manager of CWL on December 31, 1995.

"CWL purchased an additional 84 MW of generating capacity. "

In 1996, CWL purchased an additional 84 MW of generating capacity in the Independence coal plant for 38 million dollars. Also this year, the Greensboro Water Tank with a 3 million gallon capacity was completed.

An addition to the East Side Waste Water Treatment Plant was completed in 1998, which increased treatment capacity by 50%.

In 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2007, CWL installed 175 MW of gas fired combustion turbines in Jonesboro at the cost of $78 million. In conjunction with the turbines, a 12" high pressure gas line was brought to Jonesboro from the Texas Eastern Pipeline 11.5 miles away at Sedgwick at a cost of $3.2 million.

On March 3, 2003, City Water and Light merged with Rural Water Service, Inc. (RWS). The merger allowed CWL to serve 3,800 RWS customers in the areas to the north, east and west of the Jonesboro city limits.

City Water and Light constructed the Neely Road Water Tank and Pump Station in 2007 at a cost of approximately $2.6 million. The tank has a storage capacity of 4.5 million gallons, and the pump station is capable of pumping over 4 million gallons per day (MGD). This facility greatly enhances water service and fire fighting capability in southwest Jonesboro, which has seen significant growth.

In July 2010, CWL laboratory personnel moved into a newly remodeled and expanded laboratory facility at the Eastside Wastewater Treatment Plant located at 5205 Ingels Road. The newly remodeled facility was expanded by approximately 1500 square feet. It houses separate laboratory areas for drinking water and wastewater testing. This facility has greatly enhanced CWL's ability to serve its customers and protect the environment.

In the new facility, laboratory personnel perform routine testing of CWL's drinking water to ensure that it meets Federal and State Drinking Water Regulations and is safe for human consumption. Also, laboratory personnel test wastewater treatment plant effluent to ensure that it meets National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit Limits and will not harm the environment. CWL's Industrial Pretreatment Program is conducted out of this facility to protect the integrity of the Publically Owned Treatment Works and the environment.

The facility was remodeled with energy efficiency in mind. Various improvements were incorporated in this project to enhance energy and water conversation. This not only saves CWL's customers money, but protects the environment as well.

In 2012, CWL completed Phase I of the Commerce Water Treatment Plant at a total cost of approximately $6 million. The capacity of Phase I is about 6 million gallons per day (MGD), but the plant can be expanded in the future to a projected ultimate capacity of about 26 MGD.

Manager Ron Bowen retired June 30, 2014 after 45 years of service to CWL. Ron began his career at CWL in 1969 as an Engineering Aid, then promoted to Chief Engineer in 1975 where he remained until 1983 when he was promoted to Assistant Manager. On December 31, 1995, Ron Bowen become CWL's sixth manager. As Manager, Ron lead CWL in some major events such as:

  • Purchasing an additional 84 MW of generating capacity in the Independence Coal Plant.
  • Installation of 175 MW of gas fired combustion turbines.
  • Merging with Rural Water Service.
  • Constructing a water treatment plant on Commerce Drive.

Jake Rice III was appointed Manager on July 1, 2014. Jake is a Cum Laude graduate of Arkansas State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering.

"City Water and Light's goal is to continue to meet the needs of a growing community and provide its services at the lowest cost consistent with sound business practices. "

City Water and Light is one of a kind, in that, in Arkansas it is the only municipal improvement district set up which serves water, sewer and electricity to its citizens. The major advancements made by this utility can be contributed to conservative, but progressive leadership through its managers and the board of directors who have been willing to look to the future with the interests of Jonesboro in mind. This is evident by the existence of excess capacity in all three utilities and some of the lowest rates in the nation.

In conclusion, CWL's goal is to continue to meet the needs of a growing community and provide its services at the lowest cost consistent with sound business practices. Currently we have approximately 36,000 electric customers, 35,800 water customers (including 6,000 rural), 24,000 sewer customers and a city population of almost 71,500.