Olive resigns, GWA begins new GM search - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Olive resigns, GWA begins new GM search

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - More than half way through his three-year contract with the Guam Waterworks Authority, today marked the last day on the job for general manager Dr. Leonard Olive.  He spent the last 19 months leading the utility agency. 

He started the job in November 2008 on a three-year contract, coming to Guam from Washington where he served as the Washington Public Works Director. His resignation comes at a time when the agency has been criticized by lawmakers and thousands of customers who were upset about being backbilled for water.

GWA Spokesperson Heidi Ballendorf says Olive tendered his resignation, saying he will now pursue personal interests.  "We wish him well and he's given a tremendous amount of service to GWA and the community in the short time he was here. but we'll know he'll be going on to bigger and better things," she explained.

Acting in his place is Consolidated Utilities Services General Manager John Benavente. Ballendorf says Olive has been instrumental in approving a five-year rate plan, and has worked internally on a GWA Strategic Plan. He has also been instrumental in ensuring discussions continue with the Department of Defense on needs for the military buildup.

Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairperson Simon Sanchez wouldn't confirm whether the CCU asked for Olive's resignation instead, only saying, "We've worked out an amicable settlement with him that is allowed under his contract. He was with us for 20 months and did quite a bit for us."

She added, "It was originally a three-year agreement, but there was a clause that it could be mutually ended if agreed to and that's the clause that we left."

The last time the Guam Waterworks Authority had to hire a GM, it took them 18 months to fill the vacancy. Sanchez says an announcement for the position will be put out in the next several weeks.  "We will announce it locally. We will also announce it nationally and we may hire a headhunter, as well. We may use two or three different ways to find the right person. The next decade here is so exciting for GWA and so demanding that we need to find somebody good and strong who will be able to lead an organization through many changes," he explained.

Sanchez says he remains confident that the utility agency will find a qualified individual to lead GWA in the right direction.

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