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FUTURE IS IT TRUE Courier article


Evansville Water & Sewer Utility, mayor’s office hire spokespeople


EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The Evansville Water & Sewer Utility named its first-ever, full-time communications director, whose role is to inform the public about millions of dollars worth of upgrades happening citywide.

Those projects are being funded by multiple years of rate increases.

Ella Johnson-Watson, who has been part of Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s staff since early in his administration, has moved to the utility and her salary is paid by the utility budget.

“We have so many projects that are impacting the community, and people dealing with waterline replacements, that I have felt for some time we needed somebody internally with expertise in communications and community relations,” said Allen Mounts, director of the EWSU.

Johnson-Watson’s salary is in the $55,000 range, Mounts said. The utility’s annual budget is about $125 million.

Mounts said he has typically handled public communication responsibilities himself, but he decided the utility needed a full-time person in that role, given the numerous projects taking place.


More: Here’s how much Evansville water, sewer rates are expected to rise in 2019-21

The various projects involve repairing or replacing old infrastructure and eliminating combined wastewater and stormwater overflows. Utility customers are paying for the work.

For an Evansville Water & Sewer Utility residential customer who uses 5,000 gallons of water per month, the bill in January jumped from $32.54 to $37.39. In 2020, it goes to $42.01, followed by $44.53 in 2021, an increase of nearly 37 percent over the three years.

The sewer part of a typical user’s bill was $58.07 last year. It grew to $65.64 in January, and it will jump to $70.17 in 2020, an increase of nearly 21 percent over those two years.

Mounts noted local government agencies such as the police department have a designated spokesperson, and months ago he decided the utility also needed someone for the task.

Johnson-Watson also will represent the utility at local meetings and events.

“It’s an area that’s a need and opportunity for us,” Mounts said. “It’s something we had planned on and budgeted for. We’re a pretty large corporation with limited resources from a marketing, communications and public relations perspective.”

Winnecke, in a news release, said: “Ella has an extensive background in multimedia journalism, public relations and community outreach that will serve her well in her new role at the utility. I wish Ella well and will continue to rely on her communications expertise on select city projects.”

Stubbs now mayor’s spokesman

Replacing Johnson-Watson in Winnecke’s office is Noah Stubbs, a Courier & Press reporter and digital content producer for six years. Stubbs stopped covering all city and county government news as well as elections as soon as he accepted the new position

“It has been an honor and a privilege to inform, educate and entertain the community alongside my colleagues in the Courier & Press newsroom,” Stubbs said. “I’m excited to continue sharing stories about Evansville’s progress and development through Mayor Winnecke’s office.”

Before joining the Courier & Press, Stubbs worked for Evansville television stations WEHT and WFIE. Winnecke cited his background in video production, social media and writing.

“Noah is an Evansville resident who chose to stay in our community and understands how local government functions,” Winnecke said. “He will be a great asset to the Mayor’s office.”