SSD Search Moves Along

ST. MARYS — The incoming mayor for the city of St. Marys says he plans to have the city’s top position filled by February.

Mayor-elect Patrick McGowan, who takes office Jan. 1, said he is in the process of compiling applications for the safety-service director position. The position became open when current Safety-Service Director Tom Hitchcock was named to the same position for the city of Celina effective Jan. 1.

“I think realistically, we are looking at mid to late-February,” McGowan said. “I wouldn’t want to go much past mid-March. It looks like from the response that we will have some pretty good candidates.”

McGowan called replacing Hitchcock and outgoing Development Manager Todd Fleagle his top priorities when he is sworn in as mayor. In the mean time, McGowan said the city will operate with an interim safety-service director starting Jan. 1.

“The main thing is we don’t want to panic — we have some very capable people internally who can handle it on an interim basis and that gives us the luxury of finding the person we are looking for,” McGowan said. “We have a plan in place ... We’ve had some internal discussions but nothing I can release yet.”

McGowan said an ideal candidate should have management experience as well as be a licensed and qualified engineer. Given the day-to-day operations of the city, McGowan said the safety-service director is involved in a large scope of projects.

“They also have to be a good financial planner from a standpoint where we can continue to get economies of scale and save money,” McGowan said. “They also have to be good negotiators and a good engineer. They also have to understand a lot of the day-to-day activities that go along with that. It’s a very important position.”

The safety-service director also will be tasked with helping to carry out the city’s master plan. McGowan said the city’s master plan should serve as a road map for the future of St. Marys.

“It should incorporate what we are trying to do as far as bringing jobs to the community and how we plan to develop the community and its presentation to the public,” McGowan said. “St. Marys, in my estimation, needs to be a destination point. You do that with nice restaurants and activities going on in the city that make people want to come in. They also have to focus on the downtown area because we cannot let it go, it’s part of our window to the past and our heritage. We have to protect as much as we can.”

In crafting a master plan, McGowan said officials should look to the future and develop a list of objectives and goals for the city.

“I would be taking a look at three years out, five years out, 10 and 15 years out and saying what do want to be addressing in that,” McGowan said. “The downtown area would be there but also how are we going to help our merchants. You cannot do good things without knowing where you are going and this will serve as a road map to the future.”