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Longtime city department head resigns

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Rich Worsinger

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Rocky Mount's longest currently serving department head is leaving.

Rich Worsinger, employed with the city for 18 years, tendered his resignation as director of energy resources on Tuesday effective July 1.

Worsinger told the Telegram that he's going to work for the city of Wilson.

"I haven't thought about it much today," Worsinger said. "I'm busy working."

When Worsinger came to the city in January 2001, Rocky Mount had an undistinguished municipal utility struggling financially with noncompetitive electric rates, aging electric and gas infrastructure and a poor safety record.

Now Rocky Mount is recognized as an industry leader in both the public natural gas and public power arenas. Both utilities are strong financially — the electric and natural gas rates are competitive, the infrastructure is modern, safe and reliable and the safety record is excellent.

Rocky Mount City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said Worsinger has been an asset to the city.

"His years of service, knowledge of electric and gas and commitment to staying on top of industry trends by being involved in various organizations are appreciated," Small-Toney said.

Under Worsinger, electric distribution system losses were reduced from 8 percent to 3 percent, yielding annual wholesale purchased power savings of $4 million. The load management program reduces annual wholesale electric purchases by $6 million.

Worsinger also negotiated a restructured natural gas service agreement with Piedmont Natural Gas for annual savings of $1.25 million and a gas supply agreement with MuniGas for an annual savings of $600,000.

Worsinger is credited with increasing annual natural gas sales 20 percent by extending the natural gas distribution system and utilizing excess supply capacity to serve new off-peak agricultural processing customers, an annual yield of $800,000.

While with the city in 2003, Worsinger received the George C. Franklin Award, given to the class member with the most distinguished record in the Municipal Administration course at the UNC School of Government.

Worsinger has been chairman of the American Public Gas Association, the Carolinas Public Gas Association and the N.C. Association of Municipal Electric Systems. He served as a member of the Pipeline Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, providing input on the regulations that govern the natural gas industry.

He is an alternate commissioner on the board of the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency.

The city utility has been recognized for several achievements under Worsinger's watch, including the American Public Power Association's Reliable Public Power Provider award and five-time diamond level. Rocky Mount is one of only two public power systems to receive the award five times.

The city utility also in 2018 received the Excellence in Reliability award and the System Operational Achievement award from the American Public Power Association as well as the Public Gas System Achievement award.

Worsinger joins a long list of city department heads to depart in the past couple of years including Mike Varnell, fire chief; Jonathan Boone, public works director; Darlana Moore, internal auditor; Ken Graves, development services director; Tasha Logan Ford, assistant city manager; Thomas Moton, assistant city manager, John Jesso, downtown development manager; and James Moore, chief of police.

An interim director will be named soon, said Tameka Kenan-Norman, the city's chief communications officer.

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