By Taylor Boyd
Mark Vernon wasted no time establishing goals as he undertakes his new role as director of the Patrick County Public Service Authority (PSA).
Vernon, who also serves as the Erosion and Sediment Control & Stormwater Management Administrator, was named to the post earlier this month.
While he will assume the responsibilities at no additional cost, Vernon said his primary responsibility and goal is “to continue to enhance the wellbeing and quality of life of the citizens of Patrick County that are currently served by the PSA, provide safe drinking water, and the collection and distribution of sanitary sewer to treatment facilities.”
Vernon said he also will work to help promote some economic growth in the county by providing some additional services of the domestic water and sanitary sewer.
“It’s very important infrastructure, and in this day and age, not much economic development can come out of something unless you have some infrastructure in place,” he said.
The PSA currently does not have any planned projects, but he will look for opportunities, including the possibility of expanding the system to reach and serve additional areas.
“I think the biggest challenge is going to be trying to find available funding to build new infrastructure. We do know that there is currently the infrastructure bill that’s being debated at the federal government level. So, if that’s passed, we’ll be looking for opportunities to gain access to some of that funding to do additional projects in the county,” he said.
In terms of the additional workload, Vernon said he believes the two positions go together because both are involved in infrastructure.
“It really doesn’t differ so much, as in the Erosion and Sediment Control & Stormwater Management, I am involved in the permit process for development in the county, so in that aspect, it’s kind of the same. I don’t think it’s a lot of difference. It’s still infrastructure-related,” he said.
A Patrick County native, Vernon graduated from Patrick County High School in 1990. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from East Tennessee State University in 1994. He began working in his current position in 2017. Before that, Vernon spent 23-years with a civil construction firm in Martinsville that built sanitary sewer and domestic supply systems.
In his free time, Vernon said he enjoys farming on his family farm, which has been in his family “for well over 100 years.” He is also a member of the Stuart United Methodist Church, where he has been lay leader for the last four years.
Vernon has two adult children, a son, and a daughter. His daughter is a graduate of Radford University and currently works at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, and his son served in the U.S. military.