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2021 WISA Awards

About the WISA

The WISA (Water Industry Service Award) is designed to recognize members of the Nebraska Section of AWWA who, over the years, have untiringly served the Water Works Industry. Submitted nominations must include information about the nominee and must meet the following criteria:

  1. Awardees or Utilities shall be a current member and have been a continuous AWWA member for at least five years.
  2. Awardees shall have served the water works industry for a minimum of 20 years.
  3. Nominations shall be submitted each year by the membership. Such nominations shall be sent to the Chairperson of the Honors and Awards Committee of the Section for consideration.
  4. Awardees during any one year shall be limited to six members.
  5. No more than one award will be made annually from each utility or company.
  6. The Section's Honors and Awards Committee shall determine the final annual awardees from the nominees.
  7. The names shall remain secret until presentation of the awards at the awards banquet at the annual Section meeting.

Jim McGowen, Schuyler

Citation: Jim started with Schuyler in 1994, after previously working in Seward. The Schuyler water system was completed in 1890 and the past 131 years of improvements have been implemented to provide quality water to Schuyler. Jim has been the utility superintendent, water and sewer commissioner, and water operator with the city of Schuyler for about 27 years. Some water system changes since Jim took over included a 2008 vote to add fluoride to the community's drinking water. A new well was under construction in 2009 due to uranium and nitrate issues. The 2009-2010 water project included a new well, installation of water mains and new 500,000-gallon elevated storage tower erected. By 2010, the system was operating three wells (with an average depth of 85 feet) with a combined pumping capacity of 2,700 gpm, an average daily demand of 1,086,974 gallons, and a historic peak daily demand of 2,390,000 gallons. Jim has been a Nebraska Section AWWA member since 1991 (30 years).

Chuck Sliva, Columbus

Citation: Chuck started as a water operator in 1981. He was named sewer supervisor in 1994 and then in 1996 water utility supervisor. In 2017 Chuck was named Public Works Director. He graduated from Columbus High School. Chuck's father was a 40-plus-year city employee, working in the transfer station, landfill, water utilities and street departments along with two brothers and two sisters-in-law who also work in city government. Columbus has been an AWWA member since 1965 and Chuck has had an individual membership since 2001.

John Grimes, Kearney

Citation: John started his employment with the city of Kearney in the Utilities Department as summer help. This summer position soon grew into a career that has spanned 50 years as of April of 2021. He started out like the majority of the people in the water and wastewater industry as a laborer on the backside of a shovel and worked hard to move up the ranks to the equipment operator, foreman, and up to his current position of Supervisor of the Water Operations Division. Over his years of employment, he has spent numerous hours away from his family and family gatherings working on leaks, main breaks, snow removal, cleanup after natural disasters, and other job duties to keep the City of Kearney's citizens served with safe water, flowing sewers, and open streets. John, unlike many other people of his age, encourages the use of new technology to help improve safety and the ways tasks are completed at work. He was and still is a very big supporter of Kearney's GIS and is trying to make sure a lot of his knowledge that he has learned in his past 50 years of service is written down or mapped out for those who will follow in his steps serving Kearney. Over the years John has accomplished some goals of his own within the city's water system. A major improvement for the water system was inventorying and replacing all non-break away fire hydrants with new break-away fire hydrants. This was no small accomplishment as currently Kearney maintains over 1,800 hydrants and 278 miles of water mains alone. He also devised a system to assist in locating the water and wastewater infrastructure buried below the surface. This system is the scoring of grinding of arrows and a marking system in the concrete streets and curbs to identify the locations of the infrastructure. This is extremely helpful during the chaotic times of main breaks, especially at night, and when doing utility locates for construction projects. Even after working for 50 years, John has not wavered from his dedicated work ethics and leadership that he provides to the department. He is a trusted and loyal employee for the City of Kearney that I am truly fortunate to work beside. [Submitted by Anthony Jelinek]

Terry Derr, Lyman

Citation: Terry has been a grade four water operator for over 26 years with the village of Lyman. He was worked through a decrease in population and plant changes in the commercial/industrial sector along with water quality issues. In 1999 the village of Lyman was confronted with high nitrates in their wells and by 2004-2005 was looking at a water project to address well treatment, uranium, arsenic and nitrates, main replacement, meters and controls at an estimated cost of $1,431,250. Lyman soon looked into a shared wellfield with Morrill and Henry, located two miles south of Henry. Terry is the water supervisor and one of three Lyman operators that served as the licensed operators for the village of Henry (until 2021) and maintained the wells at the shared wellfield. Terry has been devoted to making sure the village of Lyman (population 315) has an adequate abundance of safe quality drinking water. Terry has been a Nebraska Section AWWA member since 1998.