Page 14 - Alabama
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One Industry, One Purpose, One Call
By William “Bill” Turner, President & CEO, Tennessee 811
 As a person who has been in the One-Call industry for 36 years, I have certainly developed a level of appreciation for those who came before me. They were the pioneers who created the foundation
for this great industry we call “One- Call” (811). They came from all walks of life; many were from phone companies and gas utilities but there were no restrictions on who could get involved. If you had a passion for damage prevention and a willingness to work with others to protect underground lines from damage by excavation, you were in.
What I have loved most about my career in One-Call is the camaraderie, loyalty, and willingness to help. Many of us in the industry have benefited from the pioneers’ work and we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Those who built the earliest One-Call programs were always willing and prepared to assist other states in developing their own programs. It wasn’t so much that they wanted to have their hands in other programs, but more about building the brotherhood and the networking opportunities in the interest of damage prevention.
A few months ago, our industry lost an icon that we all knew and loved, Samuel Johnson, the founder of Mississippi 811. I have known “Sammy” for my entire career, and he has always been a friend
and source of inspiration. For the last 26 years, Sammy and I worked very closely together running a company that provides software for One-Call Centers. To say this endeavor started as a pipe dream would be an understatement – we had our eyes set on what we needed and what the industry deserved, and we partnered together to make it happen.
When Sammy started getting sick, I knew that there were others in
retire move on and don’t look back,
not because they don’t care, but
because they understand the need to pass the torch. They don’t want to be
a distraction, but as I learned in my hour-long conversation with Lee, they still have the passion inside of them.
He wanted to know how others were doing and was delighted to hear about the changes that our industry had made in the past 10 years. It was great to reminisce about old times with Lee – the call felt like a reunion.
Following my conversation with Lee, I decided that I was going to reach out to as many retired One-Call professionals as I could track down and work on organizing an opportunity for us all
to come together. In an industry built around relationships and collaboration, it seemed ridiculous that we hadn’t
put more effort into staying connected. I started with a list of 30 honored guests; tracking these folks down was
a task but many active members of the industry were able to assist, and I was amazed at how many of our retired counterparts still utilized the same
cell number from their working years. The response was outstanding, and everyone I contacted was excited about the opportunity to reconnect with past associates and friends.
As the plans came together, sponsors from the industry quickly stepped forward to help make the event happen, so I’d like to thank them for their support.
2023 One-Call Reunion Sponsors
Alabama 811
Arizona 811
Blue Stakes of Utah 811 Common Ground Alliance
Dig Safe
Georgia 811
Kansas 811
Kentucky 811
Mississippi 811
Norfield Development Partners North Carolina 811
Ohio 811
Pennsylvania 811
Progressive Partnering
South Carolina 811
Tennessee 811
Many of us in the industry have benefited from the pioneers’ work and we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
 12 • Alabama 811 2023, Issue 3
the industry who had moved on to retirement and valued Sammy as much as I did. One of my first calls was to Lee Marrs (TX811 retired), whom I had not spoken to in over 10 years. Although my intention was to tell him about Sammy’s decline, which I eventually did, it took
a while to get there because we had so much to catch up and reminisce on.
Retirement (so I’ve heard) is an interesting experience. Many who

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