Talking Shop with Kevin Priester, manager, Alliance Water Resources

Monday, June 28, 2010
Kevin Priester is the Water System Manager with Alliance Water Resources for the City of Cape Girardeau. (Kristin Eberts)

Kevin Priester makes sure Cape Girardeau residents have clean water to drink, but he's also committed to improving opportunities for area children through his work with the Discovery Playhouse Children's Museum and the Southeast Missouri Soccer Club.

Q: Tell me about what Alliance Water Resources does in the Cape Girardeau community.

A: We operate the city's water system. We also do some work with Procter & Gamble and the city of Jackson.

Q: How long have you been with the company? Tell me about your role as manager.

A: I've been with Alliance and here at Cape Girardeau for 18 years. As manager, I want the city of Cape to have the best water supply possible and provide a high level of service to our customers. Internally, we try to provide our employees with the resources and training they need to perform their duties in a safe and efficient manner.

Q: What's the most challenging part of your job?

A: The water system, like the city, has grown quite a bit in the last 18 years. With that growth there are challenges to providing uniform levels of service to all parts of the system. It can be frustrating when there's not an easy fix to a particular problem.

Q: What kind of education and training did you receive for this type of business?

A: I started out in chemistry and worked in the laboratory side of the industry doing water quality testing and regulatory compliance. I got more interested in water production while at St. Louis County Water Co. and had the opportunity to oversee some fairly large water treatment facilities while there. Being constantly involved with EPA and state water quality regulations, I ended up going to work for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in the St. Louis regional office. I had the opportunity to inspect and assist many varied community water systems while at the DNR and evaluate first-hand a lot of different approaches to running a water system. When the city purchased the water system from Ameren back in 1992, I saw it as a great opportunity to put some of those lessons into practice. Since moving here [my family and I] have come to love the area and hope to retire here.

Q: Tell me why you chose to get involved with the Discovery Playhouse Children's Museum project.

A: I was involved in Leadership Cape a few years ago and our particular group decided a children's museum would be a great thing for area families. It would also help revitalize a really unique downtown area. After we started doing some research, we learned there was already a group of people working on starting one. We contacted them and did further research to assist that group, and I ended up being a member of the board of directors. The Playhouse has been a long, hard task for several of us and, in the end, the community rallied around what had been started. That as much as anything has made it worth the effort and contributed to its success.

Q: How do you feel when you go inside Discovery Playhouse now that this longtime dream has become a reality for local children to enjoy.

A: I think it's great, I think most of our board still has a lot of child in them and we really enjoy watching children having fun and spending time with their families. We still have a lot to do, but seeing what it has become already further motivates us.

Q: Tell me about your involvement with the Southeast Missouri Soccer Club.

A: I grew up in St. Louis and we always played soccer, I always loved the game. I got involved when my children were growing up. After they were done I wanted to stay involved, so I still coach or help coach a few teams. It's a great hobby, you get the opportunity to meet a really diverse group of people. You mostly hear about the bad in society on the news or in the paper, but I'm telling you, there are some neat children out there who work very hard not only to be better athletes but in school and [to serve] their communities. It helps restore my faith in the future.

Q: What do you enjoy doing when you're not working or volunteering?

A: I really enjoy live music and do my best to make it out to see as many local bands as I can.

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