Weatherford News

Search underway for Willow Park city administrator

The search is underway for a new city administrator in Willow Park. Also, at press time a city council seat was still vacant, thanks to the recent resignation of Place 1 Councilman Brian Thornburg.

Mayor Pro Tem Gene Martin said the position for city administrator has been advertised on professional city manager/admin websites throughout the state. He said the ad lists a July 14 application deadline. Also, he said interim city administrator Bobby Rountree has sent out numerous letters in quest potential candidates.

"He said he sent out about 70 letters to various places, and he's gotten some responses," Martin said. "We're just going to keep taking applications until that date."

Mayor Richard Neverdousky said no deadline has been set by the council on replacing Matt Shaffstall, who announced his resignation in late March after just over three years on the job.

"There is no deadline however Bobby Rountree (interim city administrator) does not want to be on the job past November," Neverdousky said. "Mr. Rountree is not a candidate for the job. While he would be an excellent choice, he would like to return to retirement.

"We are looking for experience as an administrator, an assistant or economic development experience. Public administration education is a large consideration, especially at the masters level."

Martin would like to see the new city administrator hired and on the job before the start of the new fiscal year.

"We would like to get a qualified professional in place as soon as possible. I have a target date of October 1," he said. "The new council has not yet discussed that, but I think it would be great to have someone in there for the new fiscal year."

Rountree had a career that spanned about four decades in city administration. Martin would also like to see him stay in the job, but like the mayor, understands his decision not to do so.

"Mister Rountree has brought a welcome and pleasant cultural change to city hall," Martin said. "I told him that, even though I know he wants to go back to the farm and give his grandkids rides on the tractor."

Martin said it is important to get a person who has experience with growing cities. He noted that Willow Park is in the range of a population of about 5,000, and that mechanics of a city change from 2,000 to 5,000 and again at 10,000.

"We need a person who has experience working with a population of about five thousand, and a little larger wouldn't hurt," said Martin, a 29-year resident.

"It would be great if we could get someone who'd lead us for the next 30 years."

REPLACING THORNBURG

Thornburg resigned from the council in early May, and his replacement had yet to be named at press time.

"A few people have expressed interested," Martin said of the vacancy. "Picking that person is very important. I've told everybody we'd like to have a candidate we can approve with a 4-0 vote."

Neverdousky said he was hoping the seat would be filled at last night's city council meeting.

"We are looking for someone with some P and Z (planning and zoning) experience," he said.

Thornburg's resignation left four council members, Martin (who is also Place 2 as well as mayor pro-tem), Greg Runnebaum in Place 3, John Gholson in Place 4, and Marcy Galle in Place 5.

Thornburg resigned because of personal reasons. He had received two promotions on his job at Jamak Fabrication in Weatherford since 2012, has four children ranging in age from 10-17 (two boys, two girls), and the bakery he and his wife run (Baked Addicion A La Mode) is growing.

"It was a very good experience, a chance to give back to the community I love," Thornburg said of his four years on the council. "It was kind of heartbreaking, but I just got so busy, and that was one thing I could give up."

As for re-entering politics, the 41-year-old Thornburg said he doesn't see it happening, but added, "Who knows what the future holds? But I do know who holds the future."

The Willow Park City Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

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