His was the voice on the radio whenever floodwaters threatened the City’s floodwall, the man in charge of measuring river level readings and judging when the floodgates might have to be closed. Randell Young’s job as General Manager of the Barbourville Water & Electric Company (later called Barbourville Utilities) in addition to providing basic utilities also required that he monitor the wild waters that don’t come out of pipes, just as his predecessor Jack Wharton had done. When the largest flood ever to threaten the city occurred in April 1977, Young’s response earned him a “Citation from the U.S. Corps of Engineers for Outstanding Work,” a rare and perhaps unique award for a civilian.
During his almost 35 years as head of the City Water & Electric Co. (1973-2008) Randell Young and his W. & E. staff played major roles in building a new City Waste Water Plant, a new Water Treatment Plant, overseeing the town’s first functioning Flood Evacuation Plan (just in time for the ’77 flood), the Tye Bend River Diversion Channel and raising the floodwall ten feet with concrete wall reinforcement. The engineer (University of Kentucky, Class of 1970) fought for a pure water source for city water, Laurel Lake. He made sure that Barbourville would not be left behind technologically, purchasing the existing TV Cable system, updating electric and sewage systems and introducing high speed Internet Service, always making an effort to keep these services affordable.
If managing the Water & Electric Co. wasn’t enough, Young led and served on a staggering number of local service organizations, including being on the boards of Knox County Schools, Knox County Hospital, Knox County HELP, Barbourville Tourism, the Zoning and Adjustments Commission, and the Stivers Aquatic Center.
Young married Judy Reiser in 1970 and has three sons, Jamey, Mark and Casey. He has been a leader at the Barbourville First Christian Church for over 50 years. In 2016, he received the Man of the Year Award from the Barbourville-Knox County Chamber of Commerce.
Over the years, he has assisted the Daniel Boone Festival Committee in providing electric and water services to the festival vendors and entertainment events. It is well past time to honor Randell Young as Grand Marshal of the 72nd Daniel Boone Festival.