New Sweetwater Utilities building

Shown here is the new Sweetwater Utilities Building at 400 Highway 322 east.

The Sweetwater Utilities Board has been conducting business from its new location for just over a month.

Eric Hicks, the general manager for the Sweetwater Utilities Board, spoke about how the company was able to move locations from their old building into the now one over the course of a weekend.

“The construction was completed on the 24th of September,” said Hicks. “We closed at noon the 27th at our old facility ... Then we opened up the following Monday.”

They were able to transfer all of the necessary equipment over to the new building smoothly thanks to the preparations they had made in advance, he explained.

“The move couldn’t have gone any better,” said Hicks. “We had a lot of great planning by our employees and vendors to get everything worked out.”

Hicks noted that the new building allows customers easier access to the building compared to its previous location.

“Access to our old building was tough,” he said. “You had to cross a street from the parking lot so it was cumbersome.”

The new facility contains a large parking lot to alleviate one of the problems people were experiencing at the old location.

“We are a lot more accessible here for our customers,” said Hicks. “They won’t have to deal with traffic or parking issues, which I think is a great improvement.”

Accommodating the police department was one of the reasons behind moving to a new building, the general manager noted.

“The old building was city owned,” said Hicks. “They wanted to expand the police department so we opted to build a new facility so the police department could move into our old one, which they are currently renovating.”

Hicks spoke about the total cost of the new building, along with how much the company had invested on their own.

“The total project cost was $3.4 million,” said Hicks. “We got a loan from USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) for $1.4 million and funded internally $2 million for the project.”

The new building also offered more convenience to the staff of SUB as well.

“The employees love it,” said Hicks. “Our old building was split among three levels but now are really happy to have everyone on one level.”

New features were also added to the building to allow their customers to make payments on their bills.

“We have a new payment option for our customers,” said Hicks. “We put in a kiosk in a new drive through lane that will allow our customers to make payments during or after business hours.”

He noted that the kiosk will accept a wide variety of payment types.

“It will take cash, check or credit card,” said Hicks. “The customers will need to have their bill with them for their account number and other information that will allow the system to pull their account and apply the money to the correct account, which they will receive a receipt for.”

This adds another option for SUB customers to pay their bills, Hicks added.

“Our customers have many options available for paying their bill,” he explained. “They can pay online through our website, over the phone, drive through or in person during business hours, or they can pay at Volunteer Federal Bank, Peoples Bank or CapStar.”

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