Kelso named Columbus City Utilities director

Roger Kelso

After eight months of searching, Columbus City Utilities has appointed a new director.

The department announced Tuesday that Nashville Utility Service Board President Roger Kelso has been chosen for the position. He has more than 45 years of water and sewer industry experience, utility board members said.

“We are very excited to have Roger at the helm of Columbus City Utilities,” said Interim Director Keith Reeves in an official statement.

“His project management experience and roots in our community are an asset as we move ahead with major infrastructure improvements to our water and sewer utilities. His leadership will be key in completing the tasks ahead of us.”

The Columbus Utility Service Board voted Tuesday to have executive search firm Smith &Syberg present an offer to a candidate, now identified as Kelso. The board’s resolution also included offering him an annual salary of $130,000 and extending Reeves’ contract so that he can work with the new director to ensure a smooth transition.

The previous utilities director, Scott Dompke, left employment with the city in late February. City attorney Alan Whitted said in a statement earlier this year that the city and utilities board terminated Dompke’s employment due to a “difference of management style and philosophy.”

The new director, Kelso, is a resident of Nashville, Ind. and current president of the Nashville Utility Service Board, which he helped create. He also previously served as town manager from 1995 to 2002 and president of the Nashville Town Council.

His experience includes leadership positions with not just the city, but also CHA Consulting, Inc. and RW Armstrong. Since 2015, he has been a consultant to Arcadis, Inc., advising various clients on water and sewer projects.

Kelso has a bachelor of science in interdisciplinary engineering from Purdue University. He is also a certified professional engineer with the state of Indiana and has held certifications as a Certified Drinking Water Operator and Certified Wastewater Operator.

Utilities officials also noted that local residents might recognize their new utilities director from the Columbus Farmers Market as the owner of Red Rooster Microfarms.