Former Phenix City director of utilities returns after Navy service

The former director of Phenix City Utilities and past president of the Phenix City Chamber of Commerce has returned home after serving as a Navy engineer in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's time to come home for good," Tim Simpson said Tuesday.

Simpson, 52, recently retired as a captain after serving 32 years in reserve and active duty in the U.S. Navy. He plans to return to Barrett-Simpson Inc., an engineering and surveying company he co-owns with Bill Barrett in Phenix City.

Two weeks ago, Simpson returned to the city with new Mayor Eddie Lowe and continued work on a 2.5-mile course for whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River.

Simpson said he will be involved again in the community and hopes to be part of some projects. He was the city's utilities director under former Mayor Sonny Coulter in 1990s and served as president of the Phenix City Chamber of Commerce in 1996, the year Olympic softball was at the South Commons complex in Columbus.

During his military career, Simpson said he was activated three times. His last stint was two and half years with headquarters at the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. At the command, he led the Theater Support Branch to start a theater Operational Energy Program, develop environmental policies and implement security cooperation programs. The command covers operations throughout the Middle East.

One of the big issues for engineers was elimination of burn pits in Afghanistan, where he was deployed last year. Burn pits are used for disposing of trash and other materials. Many soldiers have claimed smoke from the burn pits cause illnesses.

Simpson also was responsible for overseeing the counter-narcotic construction program for the engineers.

He believes that efforts in Afghanistan have made a difference.

"I hope we can make the nation better," he said.

For his service, Simpson was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal, which recognizes superior service and honors an individual's accomplishments.

Simpson lives in Hatchechubbee, Ala., with his wife, Pam Simpson, an assistant principal at Russell County High School.

He said has no plans to leave the area again.

"My ship is parked for good," Simpson said.