Hurricanes and ice storms have not stopped James Myzell Jr. from a job he loves and performs with consummate care and precision.
As operations manager of the Orangeburg County Water and Sewer Authority, he is not only responsible for responding to the needs of more than 100 water customers, but also the management -- and sometimes maintenance -- of multi-million dollar water and wastewater infrastructure.
He has to make sure he’s maintaining lab and plant certifications through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and learning the ins and out of a sequential batch reactor wastewater treatment system.
It is a job which he takes seriously, having taken off only 20 days in his six years as operations manager of the Orangeburg County Water and Sewer Authority. He has worked every day of the week, including nights, weekends and holidays.
It is Myzell's penchant for being trustworthy and reliable in the carrying out of his duties that led the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative to honor him for his dependability.
Myzell said he was humbled by the honor.
"I was very humbled and also appreciative. I know there's a lot of good people to pick from. It takes a lot of dedicated people to make things work," the 54-year-old said.
His office is located within the John W. Matthews Industrial Park located on U.S. 301 near U.S. 176.
"Being in this position and being that we are the key to bringing jobs over in this park, it's very gratifying whenever a company locates and picks our area. (Sixth District Congressman Jim) Clyburn and (Sen. John) Matthews and those guys put monies aside and made this happen to have utility services in a rural area.
"A lot of businesses won't locate if water and sewer services are not available, and we have it available," Myzell said. He mentioned the recent purchase of the 75,000-square-foot speculative building located at the park's entrance by Universal Forest Products, a Fortune 1,000 company.
Officials “made it happen where we have potable drinking water from (U.S. Highway) 301 all the way down to Wells Crossroads. We have about 120 drinking water customers that have safe, potable water to drink. A lot of them were on wells. These farmers around here draw so much water from the ground, they were having all kinds of issues with their drinking water wells. A lot of those got onto the system and are very happy about it,” Myzell said.
Myzell said he’s sought to be dependable since he was a child.
"When I was coming up, 6 years old, my mom opened up a daycare center. It was just me and my sister, and there was 30 kids at the house. So at an early age I was kind of put in the position of being responsible, accountable and dependable.
"As time went by, all the way through high school when I got my license, I would drive the children, pick them up. When I went to college, my mom still had the daycare. Maybe when I was two years into college, she had gotten to the point that she wanted to go ahead and retire and close the daycare. I think your upbringing's got a lot to do with being dependable and accountable, and I reckon my mom instilled a lot of that in me," Myzell said.
His mother, Kay, died last year. His father, James Myzell Sr., lives in Holly Hill.
He and his wife, Beverly, celebrated 33 years of marriage in January and are the parents of three sons, James III, Kyle and Marshall.
Myzell said his dependability has not always been easy on his home life.
"I've got the whole plant on a laptop at the house. So I can actually operate and monitor the whole plant. We were getting ready for a Thanksgiving meal. I had the family coming over, my grandchildren and all that stuff. ...
"We had some issues at the plant. So out I came. That ended up going into the day after Thanksgiving. That was a long stretch," he said.
Myzell has gone through ice storms, floods and hurricanes on his way work and has also missed his share of birthdays.
He knows a lot of people count on him to get his job done.
"So many people count on me. Businesses count on me. DHEC counts on me. Everybody I work for," he said, including Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young; his supervisor, John McLaughlin and co-workers Braxton Fanning and Shakila Mack.
"All these guys depend on me to do what needs to be done. So I accept that responsibility, and I try to live up to what I need to do to get the job done. Sometimes its 40 hours, sometimes it's a lot more, but it's whatever's required," Myzell said.
He has tried to instill good character in his own children.
"I've tried to instill them with the same values I was raised with, accepting responsibility. My middle son (Kyle) graduated (the University of South Carolina) as an electrical engineer and works with International Paper in Atlanta. My youngest son (Marshall) is an Army National Guard reservist. He graduated from Trident Tech in IT securities and works with ECS in Charleston. They do a lot of IT support for government entities," Myzell said.
"My oldest son works and gives us the grandchildren," he said, smiling.
Myzell, who also works as the director of public utilities for the town of Holly Hill, said he enjoys his "rewarding" work.
"Most of my hobbies involve working. I do have a little side business. I do restorations on land and cars and things like that. My wife has worked two jobs for about 20 years. She does cosmetology work and owns her own shop," Myzell said.
He praised the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative for its efforts to spread good character throughout the community.
While he said he doesn't do anything for recognition, "I know that you've got to have some recognition and that you've got to be able to help other people."
He said the initiative does that by highlighting individuals who help others by demonstrating good character.
"I think that would really be a benefit for all of Orangeburg County, including the City of Orangeburg. It's really an area of opportunity to be improved in Orangeburg, and I'd love to be a part of helping out with some type of improvement," Myzell said.
Individuals interested in nominating a Citizen of the Month can visit the OCCOC website at www.orangeburgcharacter.com.