Commissioners hire asphalt plant manager

James Beaty, McAlester News-Capital, Okla.
·2 min read

Apr. 19—Pittsburg County commissioners are ready to get the county's asphalt plant up and running again — and they've hired a new manager to operate the facility.

Following a Monday executive session during their regular Monday meeting, commissioners voted to hire Keith Bumpers as the new plant manager. Commissioners use the facility to manufacture asphalt they use in the repair and construction of county roads.

Plans call for a representative from Ahern Industries, the San Antonio-based company that sold the asphalt plant equipment to the commissioners, to travel to Pittsburg County to train Bumpers and possibly other county employees on the asphalt plant operations.

Commissioners indicated they were pleased to have a new manager at the plant.

"It's nice to have one," said District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith. He plans to have one, and possibly more, District 2 county employees participate in the training session so the county won't be caught short should the position become vacant again.

District 1 Commissioner Charlie Rogers concurred with the decision to hire Bumpers.

"I feel like we're moving in the right direction," Rogers said. "We're ready to make asphalt. We have a lot of projects this summer."

Rogers plans to have a District 1 employee attend the training for the asphalt plant workers, expected later this week, and he would like to attend at least a part of the training sessions himself to become more familiar with plant operations.

"I'll be in and out," Rogers said. "Hopefully, I can stay around a lot of the time." Rogers said the more he knows about how to operate the plant, the better.

District 3 Commissioner Ross Selman joined Smith and Rogers to make hiring Bumpers unanimous.

"We've hopefully found somebody who will make sure things are taken care of and take care of our plant," Selman said.

Commissioners said they still needed to hire one more county employee to work at the plant, because some applicants they expected to interview Monday did not show up for their interviews.

Smith estimated last week the plant had been without a manager for approximately 45 days, following the exit of the previous manager. Although there had been no new asphalt manufactured during that time, commissioners could still access asphalt for road repair because of an available supply that had already been manufactured, said Smith said — but the supply had been getting smaller.

In April, 2019, commissioners voted to purchase the plant equipment form Ahern Industries, Inc., which submitted the winning bid of $1,479,000. That price included delivery of equipment, with an Ahern Industries representative on-site as the equipment was put together and installed. He also advised the commissioners regarding construction required to make the plant operational.

Production at the county's asphalt plan began in November, 2019. It's east of McAlester, between Alderson and Bache, on the south side of U.S. Highway 270.

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