Category Archives: Staff Spotlight

LaDonnah Roberts Chosen to Serve as Deputy Executive Director

Ship navigation is something many in our community do for their career while others do it for fun. Steering a vessel of any size can be a challenge when faced with obstacles, weather events and limited resources. The captain of a ship will call on the assistant captain, often called the first mate, to supervise members of the ship’s crew, stand a regular watch to pilot, navigate and oversee the vessel while at sea, and help with daily operations.

In much the same way, steering an organization like the BGJWSC brings with it a particular set of challenges.  Following his appointment by the Board to serve as Executive Director in November 2019, Andrew Burroughs vacated the Deputy Executive Director position he had previously held.  After interviewing candidates for the position, the most qualified applicant was chosen internally. According to Mr. Burroughs, “Strategically, we found that the greatest needs that had to be filled were already present in the talents and skill set of Mrs. Roberts. Her financial and administrative expertise will allow additional focus on these key areas.  We have made steady improvements over the past few years, and I’m very confident that this progress will continue for many years with Mrs. Roberts helping to steer the ship.” Aside from 15 years in private sector business ownership and management, close to ten years of supervisory experience within a public municipal government helped bolster the decision.

Prior to joining the BGJWSC team in 2018, Mrs. Roberts most recently served the City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama in various roles where she oversaw customer service, water and sewer utility billing, managed divisional budgets, wrote and instituted standard operating procedures, and developed relationships with other local agencies and community groups.  This experience is what led her to be drawn to serve our community when the Senior Financial Analyst position was made available. While settling into her new home on St. Simons Island, she quickly began to understand the benefits of our community and aligned her efforts with the vision of the BGJWSC being a critical part of our local way of life. Under the guidance of John Donaghy, BGJWSC Director of Finance, her focus was immediately set on streamlining the annual budget review, development and approval process. She also helped to prioritize capital reserve allocation to support future needs while aiming to reduce operating expenses with the goal of maintaining rate stability. This goal was met and a budget yielding no rate increase has been prepared for public review and Board approval in June 2020.

Even when the seas are calm and the winds are favorable, sailors must still remain alert. Mrs. Roberts joined our staff one month before Hurricane Michael and helped with the process of ensuring documentation of any weather related damages was timely and accurate, efforts that would have helped with FEMA reimbursement requests had damages been widespread and severe.  This focus and experience was gained as a result of serving as the Tuscaloosa Area Coordinator of Volunteer Resources following the devastating April 2011 tornado outbreak. As a liaison with department heads, local state and federal officials, the media and other partners, she developed a skill set that will be critical to the building of relationships in our own community. This experience will be helpful should we encounter any future weather-related or other hazardous events that bring local impacts.

“The resourcefulness this organization has demonstrated and the commitment to being a dependable resource for our community are remarkable,” she stated. “I am tremendously appreciative of the confidence that has been placed in me by Mr. Burroughs and our Board of Commissioners. I am fully aware that I might be a new voice or face of the organization but the dedicated men and women on our staff continue to be the heart and soul of JWSC.”

While the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic limits visiting Mrs. Roberts to welcome and congratulate her on the advancement, you are invited to reach out to her at or 912.261.7153 if you would like to do so.

Staff Spotlight – Billy Simmons

Spotlight on Billy Simmons

Team Member Since 1983

Latest Achievement: Retirement

Not every career starts off with a clear plan. Some staff members begin work with us hoping to commit their lives to public service. Some intend on using the opportunity as a stepping stone while seeking other work.

One such employee is Billy Simmons, Water Production Superintendent, who recently retired from the BGJWSC after 35 years with the agency. “I was a union pipe fitter and crane operator and got laid off in 1982” Simmons said. “I spent a long year on unemployment before getting a phone call from a friend that the City of Brunswick Water Department was looking for help.” Simmons began his journey as a water operator trainee, a path that continued from being the entry level technician to managing the division.

His duties as a state certified water operator and laboratory technician, and that of all of the dedicated staff of the Water Production Division of the BGJWSC, included the task of routinely testing about 70 samples sites all over the utility system each month to ensure that the water is safe to drink. He also responded to any concerns that were called in by customers regarding odor, appearance or taste. Any failure to meet drinking water standards established by the United States Environmental Protection Division and Georgia State Department of Natural Resources could result in illness in our community. Any report of a water quality concern is promptly and adequately investigated not only out of legal requirement but out of a personal conviction. Billy said that “we are very conscientious about giving you confidence that you and your family are getting the same quality water that we give to our own families.”

What started out as just a job needed to make ends meet allowed Billy Simmons to provide for his growing family, having raised two children to adulthood while employed with the BGJWSC. It also provided him with an income that will take care of him and his wife now that he has retired in December of 2017. Having recognized early on that the agency would become his career, Simmons took advantage of investment opportunities offered by the Georgia Municipal Association to supplement what was offered by the agency. He recommended that method to his staff as well, who are pictured here with him. He has mentored them all to invest at this stage of their careers knowing that he was in their shoes not long ago. He is grateful of the wise choices that he made in his career and is looking forward to enjoying the benefits of those decisions now.

Simmons is especially proud that his team works so well together and will continue being led by newly-appointed Water Production Superintendent Donnie Bankston, an operator that he mentored closely for the last three years. “I’m proud of my team and know with complete confidence that they’ll continue to do the valuable work that I spent my career doing. All of my staff are dedicated to taking care of this community.”

The staff and management of the BGJWSC highly regard the hard work that Billy Simmons performed during his long career and wish him well in his retirement.

Staff Spotlight – Angela Walker


Spotlight on Angela Walker

Team Member Since: August 25, 2014

Latest Achievement: Bachelor of Psychology

Mrs. Angela Walker recently graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Psychology. The field of psychology is designed to teach students a deeper understanding of human behavior and mind. A degree in psychology proves Mrs. Angela has specialized knowledge in problem solving and an understanding of human interaction. These type of skills are universal and can be applied in almost any job environment. Out in the field, Mrs. Walker comes into contact with the public, businesses and organizations of the Golden Isles daily, her new degree in psychology fortifies that she knows how to interact with them. BGJWSC recognizes and congratulates Mrs. Angela Walker on her latest achievement in higher education.

The BGJWSC is honored to have had Mrs. Angela Walker working as our Wastewater Pretreatment Compliance Coordinator over the past couple years. Mrs. Walker holds the sole responsibility of conducting BGJWSC’s regulatory compliance inspections, monitoring enforcement, keeping records and reporting on these situations. She is the first line of defense against unwanted materials and substances that could damage the sewer systems of Brunswick, GA. Along with her family, Mrs. Walker, moved to the Golden Isles in 2014 for the opportunity to work with the BGJWSC and remains a dedicated, hardworking employee. She has worked in wastewater treatment systems for nearly 20 years, and has obtained multiple licenses in the state of Georgia, showing how well experienced she is even before obtaining her degree.

She is also responsible for the BGJWSC Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) program. The FOG program is a major key in pretreatment methods between harmful substances and the sewer system. Fats, oils and grease are extremely destructive to the systems we depend on for fresh water and sewer services. The program prevents these substances from seeping into our system by establishing FOG regulations on businesses. Mrs. Walker works every day to enforce these regulations, issue permits and perform inspections to keep our community clean and the water flowing.

Mrs. Walker has already began continuing her pursuit of knowledge. She has enrolled in the Master’s Program at Troy University, pursuing a Master of Environmental Policy. She intends to use this degree to help the Golden Isles enforce water regulations throughout the area and control public policy. BGJWSC is proud to have the chance to help Mrs. Walker on her new journey to better herself and the Golden Isles.

Staff Spotlight – Frances Wilson

Spotlight on Frances Wilson

Team Member since May, 2008

Latest Achievement: Completion of Bachelor of Business Administration Degree

The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission honors and recognizes the hard work and achievements of its staff. Deserving special recognition are those staff members that choose to continue higher education at the collegiate level while still maintaining full-time hours at work. One such staff member is Frances Wilson. Frances recently completed her Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in accounting. In fact, Mrs. Wilson was recognized by the College of Coastal Georgia in their Honors Day ceremony on May 1, 2015 for excellence in her studies. While at CCGA, Frances also took advantage of an opportunity to assist with the development of an internship relationship with the School of Business, a relationship that will allow the BGJWSC to serve the community by partnering with CCGA to be a host agency for future internships.

Frances has been employed by the organization since May of 2008, when she was hired as the Accounts Payable Coordinator for our Finance Department. Meeting the challenge of completing this degree put Frances on course to take on more responsibility within the organization. As such, her role here was expanded following graduation in order to take advantage of the skills that she developed while at the College of Coastal Georgia. She has demonstrated that she is a lifelong learner and looks forward to facing future challenges with the same enthusiasm.

One of the most valuable benefits offered by the BGJWSC is tuition reimbursement for staff members seeking qualifying degrees, such as those within the finance, accounting, business administration, public administration, emergency management, engineering, information technology and environmental science fields. Those that successfully complete each class towards a degree receive reimbursement for the cost of tuition and books. Staff members that complete a degree that benefits their role in the agency may also receive a pay incentive.

The BGJWSC highly values staff education and congratulates Frances on her accomplishments.



Staff Spotlight – Matt Lane

Spotlight on Matt Lane

Team Member since July 11, 2016

Latest Achievement: Class III Water Operator License

Matt Lane grew up in Brunswick, attended Glynn Academy and pursued a biology degree with a concentration in coastal ecology from the College of Coastal Georgia before changing course and spending eight years in law enforcement. “Life came at me pretty fast after college and I started to feel a strong desire to give back to my local community instead of moving out of town to pursue a career in forestry,” Matt said. Following the path from the City of Brunswick Police Department to serving as a Campus Police Officer at the College, Matt encountered a great fit at the BGJWSC after applying with us at the encouragement of his wife, Baylie, who helps serve the organization’s human resources needs.

We’re proud to announce that within six months of employment with the BGJWSC, Matt has successfully attained the Class III Water Operators License.  Following a 40 hour class taught at the Georgia Rural Water Association in Waycross, GA, he prepared for the licensing exam by performing duties such as testing the quality of the water produced at our well sites, responding to odor and taste concerns across the community, plus monitoring mineral and bacteria levels in an effort to ensure the safety of our primary product: clean drinking water.

Matt is supported by a team of operators that will assist him in his immediate goal of attaining the Class II, Class I and Lab Analyst licenses. His supervisor, Water Production Superintendent Billy Simmons, has enjoyed getting to know Matt and share his experiences with him. According to Billy, “Matt has caught on quickly to the details and demands of a sensitive job, thanks in no small part to his academic studies. We look forward to many years of service with Matt and are grateful to have him aboard.”

Though the BGJWSC is not the largest employer in Glynn County, we strive to be the best. With a staff of just under 150, 39 have served with us for more than 10 years, with 10 of those having worked here for 20 years or more. Our desire is for staff members like Matt Lane to continue receiving training and experience that allows them to make BGJWSC their career home.


Staff Spotlight – Dana Read

Staff Spotlight Dana Read - 640w 960h

Staff Spotlight on Dana Read

Team Member since August 13, 2007

With ‘veterans preferred’ appearing so often on job descriptions these days, it’s easy to recognize that the U.S. workforce benefits from the experience, technical skill sets, honesty, integrity and self-discipline exhibited by those that have bettered themselves by the challenges of serving in the Armed Forces. Presently, the Joint Water & Sewer Commission employs 138 staff. Twenty five are active duty military service veterans, many of whom have served in times of conflict.

We have also encouraged those that work at the JWSC to pursue opportunities in the National Guard and Reserve branches, allowing them to maintain their position in the organization while serving for extended periods of time stateside and abroad. One such highly valued employee is Dana Read, a Geographic Information Systems Analyst in the Planning & Construction Division of the JWSC as well as a Senior Airman with the 224th Joint Communications Support Squadron of the Georgia Air National Guard, based out of Brunswick, Georgia.

We’re proud to have had Dana with us at the JWSC since 2007 and even more proud to see him preparing to spend the next 10 months deployed as part of his duties as a Client Systems Specialist (3D1X1). While serving with the Air National Guard since March of 2012, Dana has had the opportunity to train within various areas of the communications field. The 224th provides deployable tactical communications for Joint Task Force Headquarters and Joint Special Operations Task Force Headquarters. It can operate in environments without a reliable terrestrial network, and is often the first to deploy in order to establish communications networks and other C4 services to enhance command and control between units, services, or coalition forces.

His day-to-day work at the JWSC collecting utility system data, developing GIS mapping content, and analyzing flow patterns makes him a vital part of our efforts to create a reliable and valuable database that allows our management team to make decisions on how to best use our limited resources in the most effective manner to benefit those that make use of our services.  We’re confident that the commitment that he has made to pursue military service has also made him a vital part of his unit’s success in accomplishing the mission that he is tasked with.

We salute Senior Airman Dana Read and welcome his return to the JWSC next spring following his deployment.




BGJWSC Staff Recognized for Commitment to Emergency Preparedness Training

As part of our ongoing efforts to meet or exceed the minimum requirements for emergency preparedness, the BGJWSC has recognized the need to commit ourselves to the goal of 100% participation in FEMA training. The FEMA Independent Study Program is an internet-based self-paced series of courses that cover all aspects of all-hazards incident response. At the present time, there are 199 courses, with subjects ranging from how resources are distributed during a disaster, the process to apply for individual grant assistance when damages occur in the community, and how to plan for special needs that may arise, such as caring for children, debris removal and livestock.

In addition to performing the utility work following an incident, the BGJWSC is focused on preparing our staff to communicate well with other first responders, like Glynn County and City of Brunswick Police and Fire Departments. We have a responsibility to the community to be an essential part of the ‘lifeline’ services that are critical to residents of Glynn County. This responsibility puts us in regular contact with staff from the Glynn County Emergency Management Agency and the staff of the Joint Public Safety Complex/911 Center, where we have a seat that will be filled by staff in the event of Emergency Operations Center activation.

Though all staff are required to take two classes online to get a basic understanding of how we would integrate into a unified emergency response effort with other local agencies, some staff members have made an even further commitment to emergency preparedness training by attending a week-long training class referred to as Intermediate and Advanced Incident Command. These classes, which are taught by an instructor certified by the Georgia State Department of Public Safety, place our staff in a workshop environment where our skills can be tested against mock scenarios.


We’re proud to recognize our staff for their ever-increasing commitment to being a vital part of the BGJWSC effort to emergency response in Glynn County and presented their training certifications to them in the Commission Meeting on Thursday, October 22, 2015.

300&400_Training_RecipientsPictured along with the BGJWSC Commissioners and Heather Ott, Human Resources Director, are staff member Jackson O’Quinn, Dana Read, Donnie Bankston, Peter Sharpe, Ray Juliano, Jay Sellers, Michael Herrington, Jeffery McCumbers and Derrick Simmons. Not pictured: Blake Crews and Luke Schwalm were unavailable to attend.

Staff Spotlight – Timothy Ransom


Staff Spotlight on Timothy Ransom

Team Member since March 26, 1984

Latest Achievement: 30 Years of Service

Timothy Ransom, the Planning & Development Coordinator for the Planning & Construction Division of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water & Sewer Commission, recently celebrated thirty years of employment with us. Twenty-four years of that service was spent with Glynn County government prior to the creation of the BGJWSC in 2008. He has held various positions within local government, from water & sewer improvements inspector in the mid-eighties to engineering technician until the late-nineties, but has made the most of his time in plan review for new construction.

Every week, Timothy reviews numerous preliminary and final plats, abandonment requests, site plans and record drawing, including individuals seeking water and/or sewer connections to the municipal system. Many of these are commercial and industrial connections, but he also has input into the new residential neighborhood development process. Part of his review involves guaranteeing that the increase in demand for each system doesn’t overwhelm the capacity provided by existing pipe and pumps.

Born in Norfolk, VA, Timothy’s dad served in the Navy for over thirty years, with the family transferring from NAS Mayport, VA to NAS Corpus Christi, TX and NAS Alameda/Berkley, CA, before settling in Brunswick in the mid-1960s at the former GLYNCO Naval Air Station. Having spent the majority of his adult life honing his skills as an artist in his spare time, his work schedule with the BGJWSC has also afforded him the freedom to pursue the betterment of his craft. It’s not uncommon for Timothy to utilize his vacation traveling for art shows.

It’s obvious, at times, to see the relationship between his creative side and his analysis of utility systems, especially in how he approaches plan review with scrutiny. The methodology and tools that he uses in day-to-day plan review are only effective if he is able to see within his mind how new development will affect the system. It’s a skill that is much-valued within the BGJWSC.

In an age when it is uncommon to be employed long-term with an organization, Timothy’s tenure is rare. “You must endeavor to persevere. There have been challenges over time, but I believe that over my thirty years of service, my main goal has been to ensure that the standards for construction have been delivered based on the needs and demands of the public.” Since 2008, with the merger of the City of Brunswick and Glynn County utilities, he acknowledged that competing interests have sometimes made it difficult to consistently be both tough and fair. As Timothy went on to say, “It’s unrealistic to seek perfection, but I have always strived to do what was right.”

Staff Spotlight – Ray Marsh

Staff Spotlight Ray Marsh - 960w 640h

Ray Marsh

Staff Member since May, 2011

Latest Achievement – Waste Water Operator II

“Most days I find myself taking samples at the Academy Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant, making sure that the product that we treat is not polluted or contaminated in such a way as to be detrimental to the process of plant operations. The output of our process, the effluent, is almost drinking-water quality by the time it reaches the river.” Continue reading

Staff Spotlight – Donnie Bankston

Staff Spotlight Template - Donnie Bankston - 960w 640h

Donnie Bankston

Team Member since 10/25/10

Latest Achievement: Water Lab Analyst Certification

Before becoming a utility employee, Donnie was also a customer of the BGJWSC.  “There’s a lot more to getting a glass of water than just turning on the faucet,” he said. “Being involved in the operation revealed to me how many people and processes go into the production of water for our consumption and for fire use.” Continue reading