Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Erven Williams, April 18, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Being hired at TVA

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--the following is an oral history interview conducted as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Association Oral History pilot project.

Segment Synopsis: Williams discusses how he got hired at the TVA.

Keywords: Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife Development; Interviews; Recruiters; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); The South; Tom Ripley

Subjects: Economists; Engineers; Job offers; Manager; Mathematics; Pensacola (Fla.); Student; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Tuskegee University

00:02:45 - Career overview

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Partial Transcript: To begin--uh--going into your career at TVA, could you just give a thumbnail sketch of your thirty-five years and the different kinds of jobs you had?

Segment Synopsis: Williams provides an overview of his career at TVA.

Keywords: Bridge inspections; Budgeting; Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife Development; Job offer; New; Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Project Manager; Project Specialist; Promotion; Reorganization; Supervisor of Planning and Budgeting; TVA Dams; TVA Representative; Techniques; Tennessee Quality Award; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tom Ripley; Warning systems; Water management

Subjects: Bridges; Budget; Career; Dam safety; Dams; Economists; Education; George Washington University; Knoxville (Tenn.); Manager; Managers; Norris (Tenn.); Planning; Teaching; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Tools; Water; Water Quality; Work

00:07:05 - Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife Development

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's begin--uh--right at the beginning: Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife.

Segment Synopsis: Williams details his work in the Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife Development office of the TVA. Williams discusses his role in creating the office's budget.

Keywords: Businesses; Congress; Congressional appropriations; Conservation; Creel census; Economic value; Forest industry; Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife Development; Funding; Houses; Land survey; Measure; Mixed funding; Power companies; Projects; Regional; TVA Lands; Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Total use; Types of wood; Yearly

Subjects: Budget; Census; Cost; Economists; Equipment; Fish populations; Fishers; Forests; Furniture industry and trade; Managers; Manpower; Paper mills; Responsibility; Sampling; Specialists; State governments; States; Submission; Technique; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Treasury bills--Purchasing; Wildlife; Wood

00:15:04 - Work in Tributary Area Development

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Partial Transcript: So we move on and you s--you mentioned something about--uh--your, your--uh--next job when you got promoted was in something called Tributary Area Development.

Segment Synopsis: Williams characterizes some of the programs that Tributary Area Development created during his tenure working in the office.

Keywords: Activities; Assistance; Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (BVI); Celebration; Funding; Needs; Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Receptive; Representatives; TVA Retirees; Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tributary Area Development; United States Bicentennial

Subjects: Alabama; Budget; Communities; Economic development; Fire departments; People; Planning; Retirement; Rural; Technical assistance; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Vehicles; Virginia; Volunteer fire departments; Volunteers; Water supply

00:21:42 - Minority Economic Development

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Partial Transcript: And then after that you moved to dam safety.

Segment Synopsis: Williams describes his role in administering a Minority Economic Development program intended to increase the number of minority-owned local businesses throughout the Tennessee Valley.

Keywords: Banks; Business development; Collateral; Funds; Gone; Indirect; Instrumental; Minority Economic Development; Minority Investment Fund; Minority businesses; Need; Startup costs; Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Void

Subjects: Administration; Bank loans; Bond; Communities; Economic development; Education; Employees; Loans; Minorities; Money; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:26:04 - Dam safety

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Partial Transcript: Then after that, you got into dam safety?

Segment Synopsis: Williams illustrates his work in dam safety. TVA's jurisdiction and responsibility in regards to dam safety is also outlined.

Keywords: Bridge Over Dam program; Bridge inspection vehicle; Bridge inspections; Dam locks; Downstream; Federal Highway Administration; Information; Inspections; Needs; Projects; Review; Safety issues; State roads; Structural integrity; TVA Bridges; TVA Dams; TVA Lands; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Water management; Water releases

Subjects: Bridges; Budget; Cost; Dam safety; Dams; Federal government; Floods; Gates; Jurisdiction; Land Between the Lakes (Ky. and Tenn.); People; Planning; Responsibility; Roads; State governments; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Training

00:32:18 - Project manager in dam safety

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Partial Transcript: And then I branch off from the budgeting, got out of the budgeting, and then I was basically in, um--a project manager for a program that basically responsible for the--all the signage.

Segment Synopsis: Williams chronicles his work as Project Manager in dam safety at the TVA.

Keywords: Attorneys; Committee; Discarded; Implementation; Important; Interesting; Liability; Project manager; Proposal; Rule; Signage; TVA Dams; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Warning systems

Subjects: Dam safety; Dams; Engineers; Management; Redundancy (Engineering); Safety; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:34:33 - Cooperation of federal agencies on dam safety

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Partial Transcript: The state of the dams and their structural integrity were probably just fine in those days.

Segment Synopsis: Williams lists some of the changes to federal regulations on dam safety as a result of an accident in Georgia in the late 1970s. During the Carter Administration, the TVA and other federal agencies came together to create more stringent federal guidelines on dam safety in response to the accident.

Keywords: Accident; Carter Administration; Dam operations; Emphasis; Enhanced; Failures; Fairly new; Federal agencies; Federal guidelines; Improvements; Jimmy Carter; Killed; Locks; New program; Reports; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Subjects: Children; Cooperation; Dam safety; Dams; Engineering; Federal government; Georgia; Meeting; Planning; Responsibility; Safety; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; United States Department of Agriculture; Washington (D.C.)

00:37:30 - Quality Program

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Partial Transcript: You walked into Water Quality, or the Quality Program?

Segment Synopsis: Williams details the efforts of the TVA to increase efficiency and the quality of the organization through a required quality training program for all TVA employees. Williams describes his work as a teacher in the Quality Program.

Keywords: Automotive industry; Background; Classes; Efficiency; Exposure; Help; Improvements; Marvin Runyon; Outside; Power operators; Quality; Quality Program; Required; Resources; Saved; TVA Chairman; Techniques; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Debt; Employees; Inspection; Managers; Teaching; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Tools; Training

00:42:46 - Warning system design and implementation

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Partial Transcript: I--I went on to doing things in terms of--uh--doing the things around the TVA dams in terms of the warning systems.

Segment Synopsis: Williams explains his involvement in creating the warning systems for dams in order to protect people from getting hurt in the river, especially when dams were about to release water.

Keywords: Bypass switch; Control panel; Downstream; Electric production; Feedback; Functioning; Implementation; Inspections; Liability; Ocoee River; Repairs; Strategic points; Strobe lights; System down; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Voice box; Warning horns; Warning systems; Water release

Subjects: Dam safety; Dams; Dependency; Electricity; Functions; Horns; Maintenance; People; Spare parts; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Water

00:45:38 - Memories of TVA / Final thoughts

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Partial Transcript: Looking back on your overall--uh--collection of TVA jobs and careers, is there any one thing that sticks out about your TVA experience that was very special?

Segment Synopsis: Williams shares some of his most vivid memories of working at the TVA. Williams also provides his opinion on how the TVA should return to its original mission of community involvement in the modern era.

Keywords: Accepted; Back to roots; Community involvement; Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife Development; Implement; Original; Power company; Proposal; Rewarding; Special; Strange; Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Warning systems; Welcome

Subjects: Electricity; Home; Management; Memories; Pensacola (Fla.); People; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Work