2 vie for water commissioner in Orange

  • Denise Andrews, 59, of 21 Beach Lane, is running for water commissioner. File photo

  • Carl L. Sauter, 72, of 57 Forest Lane is running for water commissioner. file photo

  • Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 2/28/2019 11:19:20 PM

ORANGE — One of just two contests in Monday’s annual town election is for a seat on the Water Commission, a matchup between a former state legislator and a retired Rodney Hunt employee. The commissioner seat is for three years.

Here are profiles of the two candidates:

Denise Andrews

She’s been a state representative, an activist, a corporate manager and an adviser on diversity and inclusivity issues.

She’s also an Orange native, and this Monday, Denise Andrews is hoping to become a water commissioner.

“I’ve been taught — and believe — to give back to one’s community,” Andrews said. “I’m a fan of the current Water Commission, and the department head and the team.”

Andrews was the Democratic state representative for the Second Franklin District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 2011 to 2015, representing Orange, Athol and other towns in Franklin, Hampshire and Worcester counties. Andrews was the chairwoman of Gov. Deval Patrick’s Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination and Diversity Advisory Council. She was defeated by then-Republican, now Independent, SusannahWhipps in 2014.

According to Andrews, her diverse résumé makes her uniquely qualified for the position. Andrews worked for Procter & Gamble for 25 years in Massachusetts and at company headquarters in Cincinnati and started her own consulting firm, Legacy Unlimited, before getting into politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s degree in business administration from Xavier University.

“I have a background in chemical engineering, experience in manufacturing and experience in the public and private sectors,” Andrews pointed out.

Andrews said, as water commissioner, she would be particularly interested in the management of the potential sale of the Lake Mattawa “point” properties. The Lake Mattawa point is town-owned land that has had permanent residences on it for many years. Recently, there have been discussions about the town selling the land to the residents, which would bring in money for the Water Department.

“I have time and interest to serve, and I’m very curious about ... the investment strategy of about $1.2 million that will be coming to the department with sale of the Lake Mattawa point properties,” Andrews said. “It’s very important, Orange has had historically great water, plenty of supply for both our families and our businesses.”

Carl L. Sauter

ORANGE — From a young boy playing in the water that would stream down the hills toward his Chase Street home, building fake dams, to surveying water systems in New York City and across the country for a living, Sauter describes himself as someone “always intrigued by water.”

Now, Sauter, 72, a retired control panel builder for Rodney Hunt Inc., says he can bring his expertise and knowledge of water systems to the Water Commission.

If elected, Sauter said he will carry out the Water Department’s mission of running a financially sound and, above all, safe water system while complying with all state and federal regulations.

Orange has a “very good” water system, Sauter said, and he wants to help keep it that way. Some specific issues he is interested in include infrastructure improvements to the town’s wells, the management of town-owned property that could benefit the Water Department, like the point on Lake Mattawa, and examining ways to upgrade the town’s water purification system.

“The town really is in need of some infrastructure improvements,” Sauter said. “But you have to spend money wisely for the right things at the right time.”

Orange recently had a plan to install a new back-up generator at its third well for drinking water, a plan that was scrapped in order to allow more time for studies to make it a grant-eligible venture. For Sauter, he wants to make sure everything is done fairly.

That includes the sale of the Lake Mattawa “point” properties. These houses are on town-owned land, and the people living there pay taxes to the town to stay there “as if they own them,” Sauter said. Himself a point resident, Sauter knows that the sale of the properties to the residents already living there would generate money for the Water Department, which could be invested — he estimates the sales would total around $1 million. However, he wants to make sure the people who have lived there for years, himself since the 1980s, are given a fair price.

In New York City, performing field work for Rodney Hunt, Sauter studied the ultraviolet light water purification system employed by the city. He said it is worth looking at all options, new and old, when it comes to Orange’s water purification system, which uses chemical treatment.

“I have learned enough to be comfortable working with the current technology, and even to modify it to get it to work even better,” Sauter said, recalling replacing valves at Niagara Falls.

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