Aqua Illinois Appoints Colton Janes as Director of Operations

Aqua Illinois President Craig Blanchette has announced the appointment of Colton Janes as the state director of operations. In his new role, Janes will oversee operations for all three service regions in Illinois and support plans for continued growth within the state.

Janes previously served as the central area manager for Aqua North Carolina, where he managed nearly 400 water and wastewater systems across 10 counties.

“Colton knows water and wastewater systems from design through operation,” said Blanchette. “Just as important, he understands that our customers are at the center of everything we do, and he doesn’t stop working until they’re satisfied. That’s the high standard of service Colton delivered for Aqua in North Carolina, and that’s the service he’ll provide to families right here in Illinois.”

After receiving his Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Janes designed water and wastewater systems for an engineering firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. He later operated water and wastewater systems on the North Carolina coast. His career progressed to municipal operations, where he oversaw capital improvement programs and managed new construction. Janes grew up on a farm in Stillman Valley, Ogle County, Illinois, where his family owned a water and wastewater contract operating company. Janes became involved in the industry at an early age when he visited plants with his father, a now-retired wastewater system operator. 

“I’m proud to come home to Illinois and remain part of the Aqua family,” said Janes. “Our skilled and experienced team works hard to deliver quality water and dependable service every day, and we’re committed to maintaining and improving our water and wastewater systems so we can serve generations to come.”

Janes is a licensed professional engineer and is certified in Illinois as a class 2 wastewater operator and a class B well and surface water operator. Janes and his wife, Jecca, live in Bourbonnais.

Aqua Illinois provides water and wastewater service to more than 63,000 homes and businesses in Boone, Champaign, Cook, Dekalb, Kane, Kankakee, Knox, Lake, Ogle, Vermilion, Will and Winnebago counties. Visit AquaAmerica.com for more information, or follow Aqua on Facebook at facebook.com/MyAquaAmerica and on Twitter at @MyAquaAmerica.

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Top 5 Water Stories in 2015

2015 was a huge year for water. From water in space to water in California (or lack thereof), we’ve been reading about the never-ending dominance of all things water this year. And we’re psyched about it!

Check out some of these fascinating water stories from 2015!

 

 

Owens River Restoration Project a Big Success

What was once a parched river in California’s Owen Valley is now an abundant water source filled with mud hens, herons, bass, carp, catfish, and even river otters. One of the largest river-restoration projects in the country has allowed a small current to meander through what was largely a sandy, rocky bed more often used as a horse trail. It appears that, after a lot of hard work, life is returning to one of California’s most treasured rivers.

 

 

Move Over, Big Oil, We’re About to Mine Water

Underneath roughly 34,000 acres in the Mojave Desert are billions of gallons of fresh water just waiting to be mined. Scott Slater and his company, Cadiz, are hoping to be among the first to make water the hot commodity of the 21st century. Although there’s been trouble finding funding, the promise of investment is sure to be fruitful in the future.

 

 

Man and Water Post Katrina

Since Katrina, New Orleans has steadily returned to its old ways, water being front and center. Photographer Frank Relle has taken stunning photos of how people and water coexist in a region that has dealt with catastrophic disasters like Katrina, Rita, and the BP oil spill. This nighttime tour of weathered homes surrounded by water shows just how much of a force water is, and how, most importantly, it continues to be a source of life and hope.

 

 

‘Water Lady’ Brings Water to Parched Navajo Lands

They call her the “water lady,” but she’s so much more than that to the Navajo nation. She listens to her 221 clients’ desires and afflictions, and does whatever she can to help resolve them. For six years, Darlene Arviso has been delivering water to the Navajo nation, where conservation is not just a choice or a mandate, but a way of life.

 

 

There’s Liquid Water on Mars

We’ve known this (or theorized it) for a very long time now. We knew that Mars had polar ice caps, but this year, thanks to some innovative images, we have discovered that Mars indeed has flowing water. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted hydrated salt minerals in hillside marks that lengthen and shrink as the Martian seasons change. This discovery puts us one step closer to figuring out if there is, in fact, life on Mars. Without a doubt this is the best water news story of the year!

 

Do you have any cool water stories from 2015? Share them with us!

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Get to Know Aqua: Executive Secretary Vickie Carrillo

 

How long have you been with Aqua?

This December it will be ten (10) years.

What is your title/what are your responsibilities?

Executive Secretary, I have many responsibilities, I support the VP of Customer Operations along with the Deputy Chief Operating Officer.  I’m also responsible for three direct reports, and assisting ACO with their admin needs.

 

 

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like crafting, baking, spending time with my family and relaxing.  Basically enjoy life and live it to the fullest.

How long have you owned your baking business?

I’ve been baking for more than fifteen (15) years. 

 

 

When did you first start baking?

When I got my easy bake oven as a child.

What do you like about it?

I like the fact that I can take different ingredients and make something amazing.  I love making something that looks great and tastes great.  I really enjoy baking for others and seeing their satisfied expression with the final product.

What do you make?

I make cookies, cakes, cheese cakes, pies, puddings, cookie pops, cake pops, lollipops, cupcake flower bouquets, and cupcake stiletto shoes. I design and arrange for custom occasions: baby showers, retirements, birthday parties, holidays and just because.  I also like to bake things that I have not baked before.  I like to challenge myself.

Which is your favorite?

I do not know what my favorite is but based on demand I would say the cupcakes.

 

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Get to Know Aqua: Estimator Paul Gabage

1.    My name is: Paul Gabage

2.    When I was a kid, my nickname was: Paulie

3.    My title is: Estimator

4.    That means I (do what?): I create the cost estimates for the design planning of the capital infrastructure improvements.

5.    I work with water for a living, but my favorite water-related activity is: Painting with watercolors.

6.    If I had to pick three words to describe myself, they’d be: Passionate, musician, artist

7.    Favorite weekend activity: spending time with friends

8.    Since I work at water utility, people always ask me: why I don’t do artwork for a living. I answer them: “You do know why they call them starving artists, right?”

9.    Since I started working at Aqua, the most fun I experienced was: Putting together a band with my coworkers.

10.I love water, because: Without it I can’t use my water colors.

11.The most interesting thing I’ve crossed off my “Bucket List” is: I haven’t been able to cross anything off my bucket list yet. I’ll keep you posted on big things to come!

12.My coworkers don’t know this, but I’m actually a big fan of: country music

13.In the summer, you can find me: In an air-conditioned room. I never was a fan of summer.

14.Favorite childhood toy: drums

15.When I was a kid, I always thought I’d grow up to be: A drummer for a rock band

16.Do you have any pets? (Name, Age, Type): We have three Doxies: Molly, 11, Abbey, 10, and Jake, 7.

17.The last time I dressed up for Halloween I went as: A guy with hair!

18.If I could be one movie character, I would be: Batman because who doesn’t want to be Batman?? Even Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” wants to be Batman!

19.My favorite “guilty pleasure” snack is: Dark chocolate

20.Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve always had a celebrity crush on: Julia Roberts

21.If I weren’t working at Aqua, I would be: A drawing teacher, a portrait artist or a professional musician.

22.What do you like to do outside of work: Enjoy time with my wife!

23.When did you first start your art: I have been drawing ever since I can remember, so I can say since kindergarten. I’ll never forget the smell and enjoyment from finger painting. I found that everything I saw I wanted to draw.

24.What inspires you: I am inspired by everything visual and musical. Reproducing the models essence is what inspires me as well as creating a meaning and a defining storyline within the composition. My music is a different experience of inspiration. I enjoy being a part of the process as a team in creating original music that moves individuals emotionally and brings them to their feet in enjoyment.

25.What kind of artwork do you gravitate toward: I gravitate toward portrait and figurative artwork. The masters’ works, such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Degas, and Merritt Chase — to name a few — are truly inspirational.

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Employee Spotlight - Eileen Laird

Aqua New Jersey employee, Eileen Laird, was awarded First Place in the Figure Masters Division at the NPC (National Physique Committee) Eastern USA Championships at the end of October.  The NPC is the amateur bodybuilding division of the International Federation of Body Building. Eileen works in Hamilton, New Jersey as an administrative assistant for state president, Nicholas Asselta.

Eileen has been a Master Figure Athlete with Bombshell Fitness for three years and takes her water consumption very seriously. She drinks between a gallon and a gallon-and-a-half of water each day when preparing for a competition.

“I trust Aqua to give me the best quality water, all day, everyday,”  she said. “My water consumption is crucial to my stamina and endurance in and out of the gym.”

 

Eileen wasn’t always so disciplined. A few years ago, at age 50, she was in danger of developing adult-onset diabetes as well as osteoporosis. Rather than letting her situation worsen, she made some dietary adjustments, purchased a treadmill and started lifting a few weights in her basement.

In 2013, after a year of training on her own and improving her health, Eileen was inspired by her newfound hobby. She needed a new obstacle to overcome (and check a box off of her bucket list), so she entered her a bodybuilding competition. With help from Gennifer Strobo of Bombshell Fitness, an IFBB professional, she started down a road that led to her passion.

Today, Eileen is a fitness competition regular. She has competed in numerous events, most recently attended the Eastern USA Championship and won first place in the Women’s Figure Master Over 50 division (she also came in fifth in a separate division). She is a nationally qualified NPC athlete and is already preparing for the 2016 championship. 

Outside of her decorated competition career, Eileen’s passion has also led to partnerships with Revolutionary Technology Nutrition, a fitness supplement company, and Elite 1 Fit Gear, an athletic apparel company. She also still works with Bombshell Fitness as one of their specialist.

“I love what I do and I am blessed to be in the best shape of my life instead of struggling with feeling over the hill,” Eileen said. “I have gained strength physically as well as mentally and I hope to inspire others to work to improve their health and general well-being through proper nutrition and exercise.

She added, “as a result of these lifestyle changes, I have reversed the threat of diabetes and no longer fear osteoporosis or growing older. Age is truly just a number. My number one answer when asked what one fitness tip is most important, I always say drink more water!”

A mother of three, Eileen also has received her black belt in Tang So Doo Karate and enjoys cooking and riding with her husband, Tom, on his Harley.

 

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