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Flowery Branch employee keeps water, sewer pumping for soaring growth

POSTED: November 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA /The Times

Jimmy Dean of Habersham County has been the water and sewer plant director for the city of Flowery Branch Water Quality Reclamation Facility for 10 years. As water and sewer plant director, Dean oversees all facility operations.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — A lifelong government worker, Jimmy Dean shows no signs of slowing in his second career in Flowery Branch.

The city’s water and sewer superintendent got his start in the public sector at an early age. While a student at East Hall High School, he worked part time cutting grass at Gainesville’s Flat Creek sewer plant.

"Then, after I graduated high school, I went on full time as a laborer and operator," said the 52-year-old Atlanta native.

Dean, who grew up in Hall County, went on to spend most of his career — nearly 20 years — in Gainesville’s environmental services department, monitoring and checking creeks and collecting water samples.

He retired from the city in 1996, but he couldn’t stay at home.

"I piddled around at Wal-Mart, this, that and another for about a year, then I came to work here (in 1997)," Dean said.

At that time, Flowery Branch mainly was a collection of homes and businesses centered around the downtown and Atlanta Highway areas.

The city has boomed since, expanding to the east of Interstate 985 with such developments as the Stonebridge Village and Publix-anchored shopping centers and the Sterling on the Lake subdivision.

And the growth is reflected in Dean’s work, which involves supervising water and sewer service to city residents and businesses.

"When I came here, there were just two people here — me and one more. I was the operator, director, the maintenance, everything," he said.

Today, he supervises a staff of six employees. The department also has a new, spacious building that features a laboratory, offices and training room.

Sewer flow has increased to 350,000 to 380,000 gallons per day from 160,000 to 180,000 gallons per day. The city has added a 40-acre spray field at Atlanta Highway and Thurmon Tanner Parkway, and it has increased the number of pump stations to eight from one.

The growth doesn’t surprise Dean.

In fact, "I think it’s fixing to jump way up," he said.

The city is looking to increase sewer capacity to 2.4 million gallons by taking over a privately run treatment plant at Cinnamon Cove townhome complex on Gaines Ferry Road.

Work is busy, but it isn’t all-consuming.

Dean enjoys hunting, fishing and life at his home off the Chattahoochee River in Habersham County.

He has lived there for three years with his wife, Cora.

"I wade in that river and fish," he said, showing off a picture on his desk.

The Deans have five children and six grandchildren.

As far as quitting work, don’t even ask about it.

"I ain’t ever going to retire," Dean said.



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