Pickens public works director talks projects

By Pickens Public Works Director Cory Cox



About six months ago, I joined the City of Pickens as the director of public works. The goal of this short article is take a few moments to introduce myself and share with you my vision for the City of Pickens Public Works Department.

First, I would like to thank City Council, mayor David Owens and city administrator Katherine Hendricks for giving me this tremendous opportunity. I am a graduate of Clemson University’s civil engineering department and a licensed engineer. I started my career in the private sector as a consulting engineer to many of the Upstate cities, counties and municipalities. I hope to take my previous experiences with other local governments and make improvements to our current systems that not only meet the needs of the city’s residents and businesses but also fit well with the vision and direction provided by our City Council.

Previously the city operated the streets/sanitation and water maintenance departments separately. The two departments are now merged into one public works department. As I have settled in over the last five months, I have become aware that the city has some tremendously talented individuals. It has been a pleasure to get to know them, and I am extremely excited to work with them.

One of my goals is to bring awareness and educate the city’s residents and businesses on what we are currently working to improve and why we need to make changes or improvements. For example, during the fall when leaves and brush really started to pile up, we developed a leaves, brush and C&D pickup schedule that coincided with the residential trash pickup schedule. This allowed us to focus our efforts on a section of town and guarantee your brush and leaves would be picked up during a certain window of time. Prior to the change, we had multiple pockets of town that would go several weeks before receiving pickup. If you are not aware of the current schedule, please visit the city’s website or call city hall.

Over the last few years, the city has focused a lot of money and effort on making improvements to the city’s water plant. Approximately $4 million dollars were used to upgrade the 60-year water plant, and according to Brian Gravely, water and wastewater superintendent, the city is currently producing the best water it has ever produced. One of our goals at public works is to insure that high-quality water is delivered to your tap. Most of the city infrastructure is aged, and major system improvements are needed, which is a challenge that many cities across the state and nation are having to address. With that said, we plan to use every dollar allocated by council to make the largest impact as possible. This past fiscal year, approximately $900,000 in grants and city utility funds were spent on capital improvements. Recently we replaced two sections of old galvanized water lines on Mt. View Road and Ray Drive that caused frequent dirty water complaints. The choice to replace these lines at this time made the most sense, because we could dramatically improve water quality for a relatively small amount of money. This coming fiscal year we plan to improve low pressure problems on Highland Drive and replace a section of old galvanized water line near the intersection of Fox Squirrel Ridge Road and Hendricks Road. We ask for your patience as we make improvements, however we also request that you do not become complacent with unsatisfactory water quality. If you currently have water issues, please let us know. The city is now utilizing a work order system to better track complaints and to ensure they are handled in a timely manner. We are also utilizing GIS technology and software to track frequent complaints and breaks in an effort to watch for patterns and prioritize line rehab or replacement.

With the help of Beeson and Rosier Engineering, the city has developed an extensive capital improvements plan to improve our water distribution system, the water plant, and the wastewater plant. Currently the plan does not address needs to our aging sewer system. Another goal of public works is to develop a capital improvements plan for our sewer system. We will start the process by smoke-testing our sewer lines. Please watch for signs in your neighborhood to indicate this testing is taking place. The smoke is harmless and will not affect your sewer lines or home. This helps us identify our worst problem areas and gives us a starting point to begin generating a sewer capital improvements plan.

I hope that I have given you a snapshot of where we are trying to improve and why we are making these decisions. I look forward to meeting you and serving this community. If you have any questions, please call us at (864) 878-6421. If you would like more information about what we are working on, visit us at our Facebook page or on twitter @PickensWorks.