PWSA hires retiring Army Corps colonel as interim director
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority on Thursday hired a decorated U.S. Army veteran who headed the Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District as interim executive director.
Col. Bernard Lindstrom, 48, of Upper St. Clair will start on Sept. 12 after mustering out of the Army following a 25-year career. PWSA’s board of directors unanimously approved a six-month contract with Lindstrom at a salary of $16,667 per month. Director Deb Gross, a Pittsburgh city councilwoman, abstained, saying she hasn’t had a chance to meet and speak to Lindstrom.
“We think the combination of his experience, management side, as well as his technical experience in dealing with the issues that our waterways face will suit him well to serve in this position,” said Alex Thomson, who chairs the board.
Members appointed Robert Weimer, PWSA’s acting director of engineering and construction, to serve as acting executive director with no salary increase until Lindstrom arrives.
PWSA has been without a permanent leader since Jim Good resigned in March. David Donahoe, former director of the Allegheny County Regional Asset District, had served as interim director since then. Donahoe stepped down on Wednesday because of a prior commitment.
Directors voted in late July to appoint K. Charles Griffin, a county administrator in Virginia, as executive director, but he withdrew after questions surfaced about his termination from a similar position in South Carolina.
Griffin told PWSA he resigned from the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority, but online authority meeting minutes the Tribune-Review found through an Internet search indicated he was fired.
PWSA Director Paul Leger, who also serves as Pittsburgh’s finance director, said he personally searched the Internet for information about Lindstrom.
“I Googled him 10 pages deep,” Leger said.
Thompson said the board intends to name a permanent director by April through a “robust and full search.” He said Mayor Bill Peduto’s office recommended Lindstrom and the board chose him after conducting an evaluation.
“We did a much more detailed background search on Mr. Lindstrom than we did on Dr. Griffin,” he said. “We certainly want to learn from Dr. Griffin’s process, and we’ll hopefully take those lessons and apply them to this next (search for a permanent director).”
He said Lindstrom, who was not available, expressed interest in the job.
“Our hope and expectation is he will (apply),” Thomson said. “We think his qualifications would suit him well as the permanent executive director.”
In a separate, related development Peduto announced he is creating a committee to study PWSA and recommend solutions to “critical issues” including customer service, billing, flood control and stormwater management.
Lindstrom’s Army career stretched from the Middle East to Pittsburgh. His military awards includes a Bronze Star medal awarded by the Army for heroic or meritorious service or achievement.
He was born in Monroeville and moved at a young age to Fayette County. He is a graduate of Connellsville High School and has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Mercer University and master’s degrees in business administration and strategic studies from Benedictine College and the U.S. Army War College, respectively.
In addition to overseeing 328 miles of navigable waterways in the Pittsburgh District, he’s headed the Army Corps’ Civil Works division in Washington, and the Nashville, Tenn., district. He’s served as chief of plans and operations for United States Forces in Korea and led engineering teams in various posts across the globe, including Iraq and Romania.