Two city-manager interviews done, seven left to go

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

College educated applicants with relevant experience and an eager attitude impressed Lewisburg councilmen Friday evening when city manager interviews took less than half the time anticipated.

"Maybe we ought to schedule them tighter" together, Mayor Barbara Woods said after the second of two interviews -- the first of nine such question-and-answer conversations with people who've applied to succeed retired City Manager Eddie Fuller.

The second applicant, Barbara Ann Bridgewater, was also seen as a good candidate for the open position of city codes and stormwater manager, a position that's gained importance to councilmen because of state environmental orders, potential fines and bills from a consulting engineer.

Trigg Cathey of Lewisburg was interviewed first and offers his experience at Saturn, an engineering degree from the University of Tennessee, hometown roots including a "play by the rules" approach continued from his days in Troop 307 and an Eagle Scout rank.

"If I was in your shoes," Cathey told the council "I'd be looking for somebody who loves Lewisburg."

He worked at Teledyne when it employed more people than Heil Quaker; "I'd like to see us get back to that point to see Lewisburg booming."

Both applicants were probably nervous when facing six elected leaders; five of whom will vote on who to hire late this month or sometime in February. Cathey said he "likes what Mike Wiles is doing" for the city's economic development. Wiles's job as executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board is funded by the city. Terry Wallace preceded Greg Lowe as the city's industrial developer. Bridgewater seemed to have a nervous laugh. But that came after explaining two alternatives and indicating the obvious right course of action.

Faced with tough problems, Cathey said he consults with others with more knowledge or experience and that might well include prayer. As an engineer, he's "all about facts before deciding."

Cathey offered local references, including Marshall County Commissioner Jeff Taylor who had been one of the people Cathey supervised in a previous job. Cathey understands PILOT agreements for industries granted reduced costs through payment in lieu of taxes. He's also researched the city manager's position by consulting with Fuller and several other key leaders for city departments. He's got sales experience and has studied accounting.

The applicants were the only people at the meetings wearing dark business suits, except Police Chief Chuck Forbis who was multi-tasking next to Fire Chief Larry Williams during the interviews. Forbis will conduct a background check on the successful applicant.

Bridgewater, of Greenfield, Tenn., has worked as a stormwater program enforcement officer in Brownsville, Tenn., and an administrative clerk in the city clerk's office in Ankeny, Iowa.

She's also a good candidate for the city job of codes and stormwater director, Councilman Ronald McRady said, "Yes, if they're calling her back to Brownsville." Bridgewater said she'd returned to her former employer to help Brownsville complete stormwater program tasks after her tenure there.

Bridgewater went back to school about the time she and her husband separated. She graduated in May.

Without a master's degree, she acknowledged that she doesn't expect to be paid "top dollar," but spoke of experience in small towns that taught her about "word of mouth" information and various circumstances that might be anticipated.

There were 27 applications for the job. The decision is in the hand of five councilmen. They eliminated all but 11 applicants and in recent weeks, two reported to City Hall that they'd been hired elsewhere.

Interviews continue Thursday when Lewisburg residents David Patrick Orr and Jeffery Allen England are to be interviewed.

A McKenzie, Tenn., man is to be interviewed Friday.

The four others, from out of state, are scheduled for interviews on Saturday.