Utilities Director Bill Meecham, here at Covington's largest substation, on Elm Street, is retiring after 20 years with the city. (Staff Photo: Crystal Tatum)
COVINGTON — Maybe city of Covington Utilities Director Bill Meecham was destined for his line of work.
“I blew my first fuse when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I made an extension cord and plugged it in for the first time and nothing bad happened, but I did’t realize I needed to keep some stuff separated a little better than I had. I plugged it in a second time and fire blew out and the lights in the room went out.”
Nowadays, Meecham makes sure the city has enough power to keep the lights on.
Though he’s been with the city of Covington for 20 years, Meecham still considers himself a relative newcomer. Noting that some employees came to the city immediately after high school, “20 years means that I’m basically a teenager in the crowd,” he said.
The teenager is retiring in the next month or so after a successful run in charge of the city’s gas and electric departments.
According to former City Manager Steve Horton, Meecham has “brought quality and competent leadership to the City of Covington utility system.”
“Many system upgrades have occurred during Bill’s tenure. Bill’s technical expertise, his ability to create relevant affiliations and relationships, his dedication and his integrity are personal attributes that Bill has used day in and day out to benefit the Covington utility system and its many customers,” Horton said. “Because of Bill’s leadership, the city utility system is better prepared to face what is believed to be an optimistic yet uncertain future. It has been a real pleasure to work with Bill for the last 20 years. I, along with many others at the city, have learned a lot from Bill. The city can get another utilities director, but not another Bill. Bill is a good man and friend. He will be greatly missed.”
Meecham said he’ll stay on until a replacement is hired, and expects that to happen in August.
Meecham was hired in 1993 to train to replace retiring Electric Superintendent Billy Davis. As utilities director, Meecham oversees the gas and electric departments and the PEG channels. He primarily works on power supply issues and expanding the city’s existing systems.
Meecham said he’s especially enjoyed working on rate and service proposals for local industries. Industrial development is a team effort, he said.
“Job growth is very important to the city. I think it offers both the city and county an opportunity to improve the economic demographics,” he said.
Meecham also said he’s proud to have overseen the upgrade of the electric system, including the addition of new substations and reconstruction of older parts of the system, as well as the expansion of the gas system. He said he’s also enjoyed working with city crews.
After retirement, Meecham plans to make some improvements to his property in north Newton, do some traveling and devote more time to photography and model railroading.
Meecham was born in Savannah and grew up in Hinesville. He holds three degrees from what is now Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta: associates and bachelor’s degrees in industrial engineering and an associate’s degree in electrical engineering.
Prior to working for the city of Covington, Meecham worked as a disc jockey for a radio station in Marietta, for Western Electric Company and Marietta Power.
He previously served as a member of the Electric Cities of Georgia Board of Directors, including two years as chairman, and as a member of the Utility Protection Center of Georgia (now known as Georgia 811) Board of Directors, including one year as chairman.