I’m proud of the positive impacts Aqua Ohio infrastructure improvement and maintenance projects have on Mahoning Valley communities

 

By Aqua Ohio President Ed Kolodziej

After more than a hundred years serving Mahoning Valley residents with safe, reliable water, Aqua Ohio is more committed than ever to the area. We marked the end of our 2017 construction season by announcing our completion of $10.3 million in improvements. These spanned across Mahoning Valley’s water distribution system and water treatment plant and included adding a new operations center that will open later this month. All of these projects were done in an effort to strengthen the region’s infrastructure, now and for the future.

And the work doesn’t stop there. Our area manager responsible for this region, Jennifer Johnson, is not only focused on completing these projects, but also in proactive maintenance, customer care and future endeavors.

Jennifer says that water systems need continual maintenance and replacement to assure reliable service. She shares that she’s proud to be part of a team that is investing the resources necessary to help keep uninterrupted water service flowing to our customers, and I’m proud she’s on our team.

For 2018, Aqua Ohio has planned for a total of $30 million to be invested throughout northeast Ohio. Of that, Jennifer and her team will be doing at least $13 million of improvements just in our Struthers system alone. This is in addition to the work completed this year.

 

Specifically, this spring, Aqua broke ground on a new operations center in the CASTLO industrial park in downtown Struthers. Operations personnel will be moved later this month to the 14,300 square-foot building, which includes enough space to enable us to welcome future customers to our family. The office will serve customers in Struthers, Poland, Lowellville and New Middletown, and the townships of Beaver, Boardman, Canfield, Coitsville, Poland and Springfield.

Currently, Aqua provides water to approximately 300,000 Buckeyes in northeast Ohio and 500,000 statewide. We have unmatched expertise in water and wastewater utilities, which continues to allow us to serve residents and communities throughout the valley. I take pride in the way our company is setting an example for water system management in the area, and how we protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource. 

 

 

 

 

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Aqua Ohio Employee Spotlight: Jennifer Johnson

Aqua continues to highlight each of our eight states for a month at a time. Throughout July, our focus has been on sharing all about Aqua Ohio. One way we’re sharing our story, is by sharing our employees’ stories. 

When Aqua Ohio Area Manager Jennifer Johnson was preparing to graduate from Youngstown State University in the spring of 1998, she wasn’t expecting her first job to be with a water utility.

“When I was first hired by Aqua Ohio in the spring of my senior year of college, I used to think that I just had a job with a utility company,” said Johnson. “Now, after many years in the field and holding different positions within Aqua, I consider myself a utility professional.”

Johnson started as communications coordinator for Aqua Ohio in 1998 and held the position for seven years. But the desire to explore beyond eastern Ohio was strong and she moved with her family (husband Kevin and son, Kevin Jr.) to Columbus. For five years she was the director of human resources at a law firm before she felt the pull to move back home.

Johnson and her family moved back to her hometown of Lowellville, Ohio in 2010 when she began her second position at Aqua as Ohio’s Customer Field Services Manager. In 2015, Johnson became the area manager for the Struthers Division at Aqua Ohio, her current position today.

As area manager, Johnson is responsible for the overall management and operations of the water and wastewater facilities within her division, including operational efficiency, financial viability, quality customer service, employee engagement, regulatory compliance, and community relationships.

Johnson’s first two years as area manager have been busy and productive. Not only did Aqua purchase land and break ground on a new building in Struthers, but Johnson hired and on-boarded 11 new employees and negotiated a five-year rate plan with 10 municipal authorities in the Struthers Division service territory.

As one of the few female area managers, Johnson is well aware that she is in a traditionally male profession and role. She is grateful to be surrounded by a very supportive group of colleagues and division team at Aqua.

“The overwhelming majority of feedback I receive in the community is very supportive, especially from other women,” said Johnson. “As a female in a traditionally male role, I feel pride and a responsibility to be a role model for young girls; to show them women can do anything.”

While Johnson’s work life is demanding, she is appreciative to have time to take part in another passion – giving back.

“I was very fortunate during my early years at Aqua to have the opportunity to be involved in local community organizations,” said Johnson. “Now, as an area manager, I am able to direct my community involvement and Aqua’s philanthropic support to local community events and organizations that directly benefit our customer base. The Struthers Division is very visible in the community and we go beyond ‘writing a check.’”

Johnson serves on the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Community Leadership Council and serves as co-chair of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Breakfast with Santa event, which raises more than $10,000 each year for the hospital. The hospital services the Struthers service territory and Johnson believes it’s important to give back to such a prominent hospital that provides such a vital service to the community.

Johnson also serves as president of the Rotary Club of Struthers, chairperson of the Lowellville Schools Foundation and is a member of the Youngstown Business Incubator Women’s Entrepreneurship Program Steering Committee.

“This job has showed me that it is possible to have a family, successful career and time to give back,” said Johnson. “I am thankful to work for Aqua, a company that believes in supporting a work-life balance, which allows me to grow in my career and support community efforts that I am passionate about.”

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