By JEN CARDINES
Peter Stallings had been watching the story unfold as Southington officials scrambled to push through a referendum last fall to update a crumbling water pollution facility. It piqued his interest when news filtered through the industry that Southington’s water pollution control superintendent resigned in the fall with the project start day looming.
Who would take his place? Who would lead the $57 million project to bring Southington’s aging sewer system into the 21st century? Would the town be able to find someone with the unique qualifications that the job would require?
Stallings leapt at the chance.
“He has been doing an outstanding job since day one,” said Southington’s director of public works Keith Hayden. “It worked out absolutely perfect.”
Stallings hit the ground running, coming out of retirement to help Southington transition its state-of-the-art facility.
For three months, he served as the interim leader after Mike Finoia resigned last November. On Feb. 6, the town made it official, naming Stallings as the town’s new water pollution control superintendent.
“One of the things that attracted me was the facility upgrade,” he said.
Stallings is no stranger to water treatment. He started as an operator at a Milford plant in 1973 at a time when the Clean Water Act was just coming into play.
“That’s when there was a push for water pollution control,” he said. “There was a great opportunity for a career then.”
Continuing in the field, Stallings served as superintendent in a Branford facility for 11 years, followed by 15 years in Stratford where he recently retired. However, he jumped at the opportunity to get back to work when he saw the position opening in Southington.
Stallings has a lot of experience with the type of plant reconstruction that Southington is about to undertake. He faced similar projects in both Milford and Branford, where he saw the projects through to completion. Now, he has the opportunity to do it again, bringing his knowledge and experience to the Southington project.
It was a stroke of good fortune for town officials. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (D.E.E.P) requires a Class IV license for all plant operators, which caused a challenge for the Public Works officials when searching for Finoia’s replacement.
Stallings said that there is a bit of a shortage for qualified operators. So when he was referred to the town, it was a perfect match.
“It was an easy choice,” said Hayden. “We had three candidates, and he was clearly the most qualified.”
With the hiring of Stallings, the $57 million project should continue to proceed as planned. Stallings said that the construction process takes about 30 months and will go out to bid next year.
Southington’s waste water facility will receive a new phosphorus treatment facility to meet future D.E.E.P. regulations, along with plant and infrastructure updates. Covers will be installed in existing areas to reduce odors, and the ultra-violet disinfection equipment will be moved out of the 100 year flood plain.
In his State of the Town address, Town Council chair Michael Riccio said that Tighe and Bond Engineering Company recently reached the “30 percent” milestone in the design phase of the project.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com
- For an informational video posted by town officials:http://www.southington.org/qcontent/NewsFeed.aspx?FeedID=2008
- For Southington Observer coverage of the project: